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THE abstract of the 'Variae' of Cassiodorus which 
I now offer to the notice of historical students, belongs 
to that class of work which Professor Max Miiller 
happily characterised when he entitled two of his 
volumes ' Chips from a German Workshop/ In the 
course of my preparatory reading, before beginning 
the composition of the third and fourth volumes of 
my book on ' Italy and Her Invaders/ I found it neces- 
sary to study very attentively the ' Various Letters ' of 
Cassiodorus, our best and often our only source of 
information, for the character and the policy of the 
great Theodoric. The notes which in this process 
were accumulated upon my hands might, I hoped, be 
woven into one long chapter on the Ostrogothic govern- 
ment of Italy. When the materials were collected, 
however, they were so manifold, so perplexing, so full 
of curious and unexpected detail, that I quite de- 
spaired of ever succeeding in the attempt to group 
them into one harmonious and artistic picture. Frankly, 
therefore, renouncing a task which is beyond my 
powers, I offer my notes for the perusal of the few 
readers who may care to study the mutual reactions 


of the Eoman and the Teutonic mind upon one an- 
other in the Sixth Century, and I ask these to accept 
the artist's assurance, ' The curtain is the picture/ 

It >vill be seen that I only profess to give an abstract, 
not a full translation of the letters. There is so much 
repetition and such a lavish expenditure of words in 
the writings of Cassiodorus, that they lend themselves 
very readily to the work of the abbreviator. Of course 
the longer letters generally admit of greater relative 
reduction in quantity than the shorter ones, but I 
think it may be said that on an average the letters 
have lost at least half their bulk in my hands. On 
any important point the real student will of course 
refuse to accept my condensed rendering, and will go 
straight to the fountain-head. I hope, however, that 
even students may occasionally derive the same kind 
of assistance from my labours which an astronomer 
derives from the humble instrument called the ' finder ' 
in a great observatory. 

A few important letters have been translated, to the 
best of my ability, verbatim. In the not infrequent 
instances where I have been unable to extract any 
intelligible meaning, on grammatical principles, from 
the words of my author, I have put in the text the 
nearest approximation that I could discover to his 
meaning, and placed the unintelligible words in a note, 
hoping that my readers may be more fortunate in theii 
interpretation than I have been. 

With the usual ill-fortune of authors, just as my last 
sheet was passing through the press I received from 


Italy a number of the ' Atti e Memorie della K. Depu- 
tazione di Storia Patria per le Provincie di Eomagna' 
(to which I am a subscriber), containing an elaborate 
and scholarlike article by S. Augusto Gaudenzi, entitled 
' L'Opera di Cassiodorio a Kavenna.' It is a satisfaction 
to me to see that in several instances S. Gaudenzi and I 
have reached practically the same conclusions; but I 
cannot but regret that his paper reached me too late 
to prevent my benefiting from it more fully. A few of 
the more important points in which I think S. Gaudenzi 
throws useful light on our common subject are noticed 
in the ' Additions and Corrections,' to which I beg to 
draw my readers' attention. 

I may perhaps be allowed to add that the Index, 
the preparation of which has cost me no small amount 
of labour, ought (if I have not altogether failed in my 
endeavour) to be of considerable assistance to the 
historical enquirer. For instance, if he will refer to 
the heading Sajo, and consult the passages there referred 
to, he will find, I believe, all that Cassiodorus has to tell 
us concerning these interesting personages, the Sajones, 
who were almost the only representatives of the intrusive 
Gothic element in the fabric of Eoman administration. 

From textual criticism and the discussion of the 
authority of different MSS. I have felt myself entirely 
relieved by the announcement of the forthcoming 
critical edition of the 'Variae/ under the superinten- 
dence of Professor Meyer. The task to which an 
eminent German scholar has devoted the labour of 
several years, it would be quite useless for me, without 


appliances and without special training, to approach as 
an amateur; and I therefore simply help myself to 
the best reading that I can get from the printed texts, 
leaving to Professor Meyer to say which reading pos- 
sesses the highest diplomatic authority. Simply as a 
a matter of curiosity I have spent some days in 
examining the MSS. of Cassiodorus in the British 
Museum. If they are at all fair representatives 
(which probably they are not) of the MSS. which 
Professor Meyer has consulted, I should say that 
though the titles of the letters have often got into 
great confusion through careless and unintelligent 
copying, the main text is not likely to show any very 
important variations from the editions of Nivellius 
and Graret. 

I now commend this volume with all its imper- 
fections to the indulgent criticism of the small class 
of historical students who alone will care to peruse it. 
The man of affairs and the practical politician will of 
course not condescend to turn over its pages; yet the 
anxious and for a time successful efforts of Theodoric 
and his Minister to preserve to Italy the blessings of 
Cimlitas might perhaps teach useful lessons even to a 
modern statesman. 



The following Note as to the MSS. at the British Museum may 
save a future enquirer a little trouble. 

(1) 10 B. XY. is a MS. about n inches by 8, written in a fine 
bold hand, and fills 157 folios, of which 134 belong to the 'Variae' 
and 23 to the 'Institutions Divinarum Litterarum.' There are 
also two folios at the end which I have not deciphered. The MS. 
is assigned to the Thirteenth Century. The title of the First Book 
is interesting, because it contains the description of Cassiodorus' 
official rank, 'Ex Magistri Officii,' which Mommsen seems to have 
looked for in the MSS. in vain. The MS. contains the first Three 
Books complete, but only 39 letters of the Fourth. Letters 40-51 
of the Fourth Book, and the whole of the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh 
Books, are missing. It then goes on to the Eighth Book (which 
it calls the Fifth), but omits the first five letters. The remaining 
28 appear to be copied satisfactorily. The Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, 
and Twelfth Books, which the transcriber calls the Sixth, Seventh, 
Eighth, and Ninth, seem to be on the whole correctly copied. 

There seems to be a certain degree of correspondence between 
the readings of this MS. and those of the Leyden MS. of the 
Twelfth Century (formerly at Fulda) which are described by Ludwig 
Tross in his 'Symbolae Criticae' (Hammone, 1853). 

(2) 8 B. XIX. is a MS. also of the Thirteenth Century, in a smaller 
hand than the foregoing. The margins are very large, but the 
Codex measures only 6j- inches by 4^. The rubricated titles are 
of somewhat later date than the body of the text. The initial 
letters are elaborately illuminated. This MS. contains, in a muti- 
lated state and in a peculiar order, the books from the Eighth to 
the Twelfth. The following is the order in which the books are 
placed : 

IX. 8-25, folios 1-14. 

X. . . 14-33- 

XL . . 33-63- 

XII. . . 63-83. 

VIII. . . 83-126. 

IX. 1-7, . 126-134. ; 


The amanuensis, who has evidently been a thoroughly dishonest 
worker, constantly omits whole letters, from which however he some- 
times extracts a sentence or two, which he tacks on to the end of some 
preceding letter without regard to the sense. This process makes 
it exceedingly difficult to collate the MS. with the printed text. 
Owing to the Eighth Book being inserted after the Twelfth, it is 
erroneously labelled on the back, 'Cassiodori Senatoris Epistolae, 
Lib. X XIII.' 

(3) 10 B. IV. (also of the Thirteenth Century, and measuring 
ii inches by 8) contains, in a tolerably complete state, the first 
Three Books of the 'Variae,' Book IV. 5-39, Book VIII. 1-12, 
and Books X XII. The order, however, is transposed, Books IV. 
and VIII. coming after Book XII. These excerpts from Cassio- 
dorus, which occupy folios 66 to 134 of the MS., are preceded by 
some collections relative to the Civil and Canon Law. The letters 
which are copied seem to be carefully and conscientiously done. 

These three MSS. are all in the King's Library. 

Besides these MSS. I have also glanced at No. 1,919 in the 
Bodleian Library at Oxford. Like those previously described it is, 
I believe, of the Thirteenth Century, and professes to contain the 
whole of the 'Variae ;' but the letters are in an exceedingly mutilated 
form. On an average it seems to me that not more than one-third 
of each letter is copied. In this manner the ' Variae ' are compressed 
into the otherwise impossible number of 33 folios (149-182). 

All these MSS., even the best of them, give me the impression of 
being copied by very unintelligent scribes, who had but little idea 
of the meaning of the words which they were transcribing. In all, 
the superscription V. S. is expanded (wrongly, as I believe) into ' Viro 
Senatori;' for 'Praefecto Praetorio' we have the meaningless ' Prae- 
posito;' and the Agapitus who is addressed in the 6th, 32nd, and 
33rd letters of the First Book is turned, in defiance of chronology, 
into a Pope. 





Historical position of Cassiodorus ..... i 

His ancestry ........ 3-4 

His name ........ 5~ 6 

His birthplace ........ 6-9 

Date of his birth ....... 9~ T2 

His education . . . . . . . . 12 

Consiliarius to his father . . . . . . 12 

Quaestor ........ 14-16 

Composition of the ' Variae ' . i 6 

Their style . 17-19 

Policy of Theodoric 20 

Date of composition of the ' Variae ' 23 

Consulship ...... 25 

Patriciate ........ 27 

Composition of the ' Chronicon ' . 27 

Gothic History ... . 29-35 

E elation of the work of Jordanes to this History . 34 

Master of the Offices 3^ 

Praetorian Praefect ...... 39 

Sketch of history during his Praefecture . . 4 2 -5 

End of official career .... 5 

Edits the 'Variae' . .... 51 

His treatise 'De Anima' ..... 53 

He retires to the cloister ... 54 

His theological works .... . 60-63 

His literary works .... 6 4~ 66 

His death .... 6 7 







Contents of the MS . 74-75 

To whom addressed ....... 76 

Information as to life of Symmachus . . . . 77 

Boethius ..... 79 

Eeligious position of Boethius . . . . . 81 

Information as to life of Cassiodorus ... 84 



Nobilissimi .... ... 85 

Illustres . . . 86-90 

Spectabiles . . . . . . . . 90-91 

Clarissimi ..... . 91 

Perfectissimi ..... . . 92 

Egregii . . 9 2 



Military character of the Eoman Civil Service . . . 93 

Sources of information ... -95 

Princeps ........ 96 

Cornicularius . . . . .97-102 

Adjutor ..... 103 

Commentariensis . . . . . . . 104 

Ab Actis ..... . 106 

Numerarii . . . . . . . . 108 

Inferior Officers . ' . . . 109-114 



Editions of the ' Variae ' . . . . . .115-118 

Literature concerning the 'Variae/ . . .118-121 



Consular Fasti . . . . . . . 122 

Indictions . . . . . . . . 123 

Chronological Tables . . . . . . .126-130 







^i. To EMPEROR ANASTASIUS. Persuasives to peace . 

2. THEON. Manufacture of purple dye 

3. CASSIODORUS, father of the author. His praises 

4. SENATE. Great deeds of ancestors of Cassiodorus 

. FLORIANUS. End of litigation ..... 

sf>. AGAPITUS. Mosaics for Ravenna .... 

7- FELIX. Inheritance of Plutianus .... 

8. AMABILIS. Prodigality of Neotherius .... 

9. BISHOP EUSTORGIUS. Offences of Ecclesiastics . 

to. BOETIUS. Frauds of moneyers ..... 

11. SERVATUS. Violence of Breones . 

12. EUGENIUS. Appointment as Magister Officium 

13. , SENATE. On the same ...... 

14. , FAUSTUS. Collection of ' Tertiae ' 

15. , FESTUS. Interests of the absent . 

1 6. , JULIANUS. Remission of taxes . 


of Camp ....... 

1 8. DOMITIANUS AND WILIAS. Statute of Limitations, &c. . 

ALBINUS AND ALBIENUS. Circus quarrels 

21. MAXIMIAN AND ANDREAS. Embellishment of Rome . 

22. MARCELLUS. His promotion to rank of Advocatus Fisci 

23. COELIANUS AND AGAPITUS. Litigation between Senators 

4. ALL THE GOTHS. Call to arms ..... 

25. SABINIANUS. Repair of the walls of Rome 

26. FAUSTUS. Immunity of certain Church property 

^27. SPECIOSUS. Circus quarrels ..... 

28. GOTHS AND ROMANS. Building of walls of Rome 

30. SENATE. Injury to public peace from Circus rivalries 

"'31. THE ROMAN PEOPLE. Same subject .... 

3 2 . AGAPITUS. Same subject ..... 

33- Arrangements for Pantomime 





I 49 





1 60 




34. To FAUSTUS. Exportation of corn . . . . .163 

35. Unreasonable delays in transmission of corn . 163 

36. THERIOLUS. Guardianship of sons of Benedictus . .164 

37. CRISPIANUS. Justifiable homicide . . . .164 

38. BATON. Hilarius to have possession of his property . . 165 

39. FESTUS. Nephews of Filagrius to be detained in Rome . 165 

40. ASSUIN (or Assius). Inhabitants of Salona to be drilled . 166 

41. AGAPITUS. Enquiries into character of younger Faustus . 166 

42. ARTEMIDORUS. Appointment as Praefect of the City . . 167 

43. SENATE. Promotion of Artemidoras . . . .167 

44. THE PEOPLE OF ROME. Same subject . . . .168 

45. BOETIUS. Water-clock and sundial for Burgundian King . 168 

46. GUNDIBAD. Same subject . . . . . 1 70 



1. To EMPEROR ANASTASIUS. Consulship of Felix . . . 17: 

2. FELIX. Same subject .... .17: 

3. SENATE. Same subject . . . . 17, 

4. ECDICIUS (or BENEDICTUS). Collection of Siliquaticum . 17; 

5. FAUSTUS. Soldiers' arrears ..... 17 

6. AGAPITUS. Embassy to Constantinople . . . .17. 

7. SURA (or SUNA). Embellishment of City . . .17. 

8. BISHOP SEVERUS. Compensation for damage by troops . 17, 
- 9. FAUSTUS. Allowance to retired charioteer . . .17 

10. SPECIOSUS. Abduction of Agapita . . . .17 

11. PROVINUS (PROBINUS ?). Gift unduly obtained from Agapita . 171 


(OF PORTUS ?). Prohibition of export of lard . 17 

13. FRUINARITH. Dishonest conduct of Venantius . . 17 

14. SYMMACHUS. Romulus the parricide . . 17 

15. VENANTIUS. Appointment as Comes Domesticorum . 17 

1 6. ,, SENATE. Same subject. Panegyric on Liberius, father of 

Venantius ....... 17 


Immunity from Tertiae enjoyed by lands granted by the King 1 8 

18. BISHOP GUDILA. Ecclesiastics as Curiales . . .18 

FORTRESSES. Domestic treachery and murder . .18 

20. UNILIGIS (or WILIGIS). Order for provision ships . . 18 

21. JOANNES. Drainage-concession too timidly acted upon . 18 

22. FESTUS. Ecdicius to be buried by his sons . . .18 

23. AMPELIUS, DESPOTIUS, AND THEODULUS. Protection for owners 

of potteries ....... 18 



24. To SENATE. Arrears of taxation due from Senators . . 183 

25. SENATE. AN EDICT. Evasion of taxes by the rich . .' 184 '-' 

26. FAUSTUS. Regulations for corn-traffic . . . 185 

27. JEWS LIVING IN GENOA. Rebuilding of Synagogue . .185 

28. STEPHANUS. Honours bestowed on retirement . . .186 

29. ADILA. Protection to dependents of the Church . . 186 

30. FAUSTUS. Privileges granted to Church of Milan . . 187 


on the Po ...... 187 

32. SENATE. Drainage of marshes of Decennonium . . 188 / 

33. DECIUS. Same subject . . . . . ^9 

34. ARTEMIDORUS. Embezzlement of City building funds . 189 

35. TANCILA. Theft of statue at Como . . . .190 

36. EDICT. Same subject . . . . . .190 

37. To FAUSTUS. Largesse to citizens of Spoleto . . . 190 i/ 

38. Immunity from taxation . . . .191 ^r 

39. ALOISIUS. Hot springs of Aponum . . . .191 

40. BOETIUS. Harper for King of the Franks . . . 193 

41. LUDUIN [CLOVIS]. Victories over the Alamanni . . 194 



1. To ALARIC. Dissuades from war with the Franks . . 196 

2. GUNDIBAD. Dissuades from war . . . . 197 *-" 


RINGIANS. Attempt to form a Teutonic coalition . . 198 ^ 

4. LUDUIN (LUDWIG, or CLOVIS). To desist from war on Alaric . 198 - ^ 

5. IMPORTUNUS. Promotion to the Patriciate . . 199 ^\ 

6. SENATE. Same subject ...... 200*-^ 

7. JANUARIUS. Reproof for alleged extortion . . 201 ^ 

8. VENANTIUS. Remissness in collection of public revenue . 201 ^ 


Marbles for Ravenna ... . . 202 

10. FESTUS. Same subject ...... 202 

11. ARGOLICUS. Appointment to Praefecture of the City . . 203 

12. SENATE. Same subject . ..... 2 3 

13. SUNHIVAD. Appointment as Governor of Samnium . . 204 

14. BISHOP AURIGENES. Accusations against servants of a Bishop 204 

15. THEODAHAD. Disposal of contumacious person . 2 5 >/ 

1 6. GEMELLUS. Appointment as Governor of Gaulish Provinces . 205 ^ 

17. GAULISH PROVINCIALS. Proclamation . . 2o6 - 

1 8. GEMELLUS. Re-patriation of Magnus . 

I 2 



19. To DANIEL. Supply of marble sarcophagi . . . . 207 

20. GRIMODA AND FERROCINCTUS. Oppression of Castorius by 

Faustus ........ 207 

21. FAUSTUS. Disgrace and temporary exile . . . 208 

22. ARTEMIDORUS. Invitation to King's presence . . . 209 

23. COLOSSAEUS. Appointment as Governor of Pannonia . 


25. SIMEON. Tax-collecting and iron-mining in Dalmatia . . 210 V 

26. OSUN. Simeon's journey to Dalmatia . . . .211 

27. JOANNES. Protection against Praetorian Praefect . . 211 
^28. CASSIODORUS (SENIOR). Invitation to Court . . . 211 / 

29. ARGOLICUS. Repair of granaries in Eome . . . 212 ^ > 

30. Eepair of Cloacae ... 2i2\/ 

31. SENATE. Conservation of aqueducts and temples in Eome . 21 3 -^ 

32. GEMELLUS. Eemission of taxes to citizens of Aries . . 214^ 

33. ARGOLICUS. Promotion of Armentarius and Superbus . 214 

34. INHABITANTS OF MASSILIA. Appointment of Governor . 215 

35. EOMULUS. Gifts not to be revoked . . . .215 

36. ARIGERN. Complaints against Venantius . . . 216 ^ 

37. BISHOP PETER. Alleged injustice .... 216 v/ 

38. WANDIL [VUANDIL]. Gothic troops not to molest citizens . 217 \/ 

39. ,, FELIX. Largesse to charioteers of Milan . . . 217 , 

40. PROVINCIALS SETTLED IN GAUL. Exemption from taxation . 218 S 

41. GEMELLUS. Corn for garrisons on the Durance . . 218 

42. PROVINCIALS IN GAUL. Exemption from military contributions 219 

43. UNIGIS. Fugitive slaves to be restored to owners . . 2I9VX 

44. LANDOWNERS (POSSESSORES) OF ARLES. Eepair of walls, &c. . 220 

45. ARIGERN. Dispute between Eoman Church and Samaritans 220 

46. ADEODATUS. Further charges against Venantius . . 220 

47. FAUSTUS. Banishment of Jovinus to Vulcanian Islands . 222 



of walls ........ 224 

50. PROVINCIALS OF NORICUM. Alamanni and Noricans to exchange 

cattle ........ 225 

51. FAUSTUS. Stipend of charioteer. Description of Circus . 226 

52. CONSULARIS. Eoman land surveying . -. . .231 

53. APRONIANUS. Water-finders . . . . .233 



1. To KING OF THE THURINGIANS. Marriage with Theodoric's niece 

2. KING OF THE HERULI. Adoption as son 

3. ,, SENARIUS. Appointment as Comes Patrimonii 


4. To SENATE. Same subject . . . . .237 

5. AMABILIS. Supply of provisions to Gaulish Provinces . 238 

6. SYMMACHUS. Sons of Valerian to be detained in Eome . 238 

7. SENARIUS. Losses by shipwreck to be refunded . 239 

8. POSSESSORES AND CuRiALEs or FORUM Livn (FoRLi). Trans- 

port of timber to Alsuanum ..... 240 

9. OsuiN. ' Tuitio regii nominis ' . . . . . 240 

10. JOANNES. Repression of lawless custom of Pignoratio . . 240 

11. SENARIUS. Dispute between Possessores and Curiales . 241 

12. MARABAD AND GEMELLUS. Complaint of Archotamia . .241 

13. SENARIUS. Supplies for Colossaeus and suite . . .242 

14. GESILA. Evasion of land-tax by Goths . . . .242 

15. BENENATUS. New rowers, and their qualifications . . 243 

1 6. SENATE. Arigern entrusted with charge of City of Eome . 243 

17. IDA. Church possessions to be restored . . . 244 

1 8. ,, ANNAS. Enquiry concerning a priestly Ghoul . . . 244 

19. GEMELLUS. Corn, wine, and oil to be exempt from the Sili- 

quaticum ....... 245 

20. GEBERICH. Church land to be restored . .245 

21. GEMELLUS. Promptness and integrity required . . 245 

22. ARGOLICUS. ) . . , ^ < 

A [ Accusation of magic against Roman Senators . 240 

23. ,, ARIGERN. j 

24. ELPIDIUS. Architectural restoration at Spoleto . . 247 

25. ARGOLICUS. Petrus to become Senator .... 247 

26. CITIZENS OF MARSEILLES. Remission of taxes . . . 248 

27. TEZUTZAT. j p assau i ted by h i s Defensor . . .248 

28. DUDA. ] 

29. ARGOLICUS. Official tardiness rebuked . . 249 

30. ALBINUS. Erection of workshops near Roman Forum . . 249 

31. AEMILIANUS. Aqueduct to be promptly finished . 250 

32. DUDA. Crown rights to be asserted with moderation . . 250 

33. JEWS OF GENOA. Their privileges confirmed . . 251 

34. ,, DUDA. Reclamation of buried treasure . . . 2 5 2 

35. REPRESENTATIVES (ACTORES) OF ALBINUS. Extravagant minor 252 

36. FAUSTUS. Remission of taxes for Provincials . . 2 53 

37. THEODAGUNDA. To do justice to Renatus . . 2 53 

38. FAUSTUS. Taxes to be reduced . . . . 2 54 

39. THEODAHAD. His encroachments .... 2 54 


Agapita ... 2 55 

41. JOANNES. Unjust judgment reversed . . 255 

42. ARGOLICUS. Property to be restored to sons of Volusian . 256 

43. SENATE. Punishment of incendiaries of Jewish Synagogue . . 256 

44. ANTONIUS. To do justice to Stephanus . . 257 


Heruli to be forwarded on their way to Ravenna . 

46. MARABAD. Case of Liberius' wife to be reheard 

47. GUDISAL. Abuses of the Cursus Publicus . . .259 



48. To EUSEBIUS. His honourable retirement . . . .260 


CURIALES RESIDING IN SUAVIA. Appointment of Governor, &c. 260 

50. FAUSTUS. Campanian taxes remitted. Eruption of Vesuvius 261 

51. SYMMACHUS. Kestoration of Theatre of Pompey . . 263 



1. To KING OF THE VANDALS. Thanking for presents . . 264 

2. THE HAESTI. Their present of amber . . . .265 

3. HONORATUS. ) ^ 

4. SENATE i " romo * lon to Quaestorship, &c. . . . 200 

5. MANNILA. Abuses of the Cursus Publicus . . .268 


7. JOANNES \ Defalllt m payments to Treasury . . 269 

8. ANASTASIUS. Transport of marbles to Ravenna . . 2 70 

9. POSSESSORES OF FELTRiA. New city to be built . .270 

10. VERANUS. ) T 

11. THEGEPIDAE. \ Payment on march to Gaul . .271 

12. THEODAHAD. His avarice and injustice . . .272 

13. EUTROPIUS AND AcRETius. Commissariat . . .272 

14. SEVERI(A)NUS. Financial abuses in Suavia . . . 273 

15. POSSESSORES IN SUAVIA. Same subject . . . .274 

1 6. ABUNDANTIUS. Formation of navy . . . 2 74 
17- Same subject . . . . 275 

1 8. UVILIAS [WlLLIAS ?]. j 

19. GUDINAND. ( Same subject . . . .276 

20. AVILF. ) 

21. CAPUANUS. ) , 

22 SENATE I Appointment as Rector Decuriarum . 277 

23. ABUNDANTIUS. Archery drill ... 279 

24. EPIPHANIUS. Property of intestate claimed for the State . 279 

25. BACAUDA. Appointment as Tribunus Voluptatum . . 280 


royal presence .... .280 

27. GUDUIM. The same ...... 280 

28. CARINUS. Invitation to Court . . . . .281 

29. NEUDES. Blind Gothic warrior enslaved . . . 281 

30. GUDUI[M]. Servile tasks imposed on free Goths . . 281 

31. DECORATUS. Arrears of Siliquaticum to be enforced . . 282 

32. BRANDILA. Assault of his wife on Regina . . . 282 
33- > WILITANCH. Adulterous connection between Brandila and 

Regina . . . . . . .283 

34. ABUNDANTIUS. Frontosus compared to chameleon . . 284 

35. LUVIRIT AND AMPELIUS. Punishment of fraudulent shipowners 285 



36. To STARCEDIUS. Honourable discharge . . . .285 

37- JEWS OF MILAN. Eights of Synagogue not to be invaded . 286 

38. ALL CULTIVATORS. Shrubs obstructing aqueduct of Eavenna 286 

39. AMPELIUS AND LIVERIA. Abuses in administration of Spanish 

government ....... 287 

41" ' SENATE 1 P rom ti n to the Comitiva Sacrarum Largitionum 289 

42. MAXIMUS. Eewards to performers in Amphitheatre . . 291 

43. TRANSMUND [THRASAMUND]. Complains of protection given to 

Gesalic ........ 292 

44. TRANSMUND [THRASAMUND]. Beconciliation . . . 293 



1. OF THE CONSULSHIP ....... 294 

2. PATRICIATE ....... 296 



5. ' QUAESTORSHIP ...... 3 


OFFICIORUM) ...... 3 2 









ACTIVE SERVICE ....... 38 



16. NOTARIES ....... 3 11 

17. EEFERENDARII . . . . . 3 11 






23. COUNT OF NAPLES ...... S 1 ^ 


CITY OF NAPLES . . . . . . 3 J 7 






1. OF THE COUNT or A PROVINCE . . . . 3 T 9 

2. OF A PRAESES ........ 3 T 9 


4. OF THE DUKE OF KAETIA .... 3 22 

5. PALACE ARCHITECT ...... 3 2 3 

6. COUNT OF THE AQUEDUCTS ..... 3 2 4 


8. KAVENNA . . 3 2 7 

9. COUNT OF PORTUS . . . . . 3 2 7 

10. TRIBUNUS VOLUPTATUM . . . . 3 2 7 

11. DEFENSOR OF ANY CITY ..... 3 2 8 

12. CURATOR OF A CITY ..... 3 2 9 

13. COUNT OF EOME . . . 3 2 9 
14- EAVENNA .... 33 


AN ARCHITECT . . . . . . 33 1 




20. ) 



23. OF THE VlCARIUS OF PORTUS ..... 334 






STAFF ........ 336 




32. MASTER OF THE MINT ..... 338 






38. CLARISSIMUS .... 340 




OFFSPRING ........ 341 










A CURIALIS . . . . . . . .345 




T. To THE EMPEROR JUSTIN. Announcement of Athalaric's accession 347 

2. SENATE. Same subject ..... 348 

3. ROMAN PEOPLE. Same subject .... 349 


subject ....... 350 

5. GOTHS SETTLED IN ITALY. Same subject . . . 350 


7. THE PROVINCIALS SETTLED IN GAUL. Same subject . . 351 

8. ,, BISHOP VICTORINUS. Same subject . . . .352 

9. TULUM. Raised to the Patriciate. His praises . 35 2 

10. SENATE. Same subject ...... 354 

11. TULUM'S ADDRESS TO SENATE. Elevation to the Patriciate . 356 

12. To ARATOR. Promotion to Count of the Domestics . .357 

13. AMBROSIUS. Appointment to Quaestorship . . . 358 

14. SENATE. Same subject ...... 359 

15. Election of Pope Felix III (or IV) . . 360 
1 6. OPILIO. Appointment as Count of the Sacred Largesses . 3 61 
17. SENATE. Same subject ...... 363 

1 8. FELIX. Promotion to Quaestorship .... 3 6 5 

19. SENATE. Same subject . . . ' . . . 366 

20. ALBIENUS. Appointment as Praetorian Praefect . . 3^7 

' Elevation to the Patriciate 

23. BERGANTINUS. Gifts to Theodahad . . . .37 

24. CLERGY OF THE ROMAN CHURCH. Ecclesiastical immunities . 37 1 

25. JOANNES. Confirmation of Tulum's gift of property . .373 



26. To INHABITANTS OF EEATE AND NURSIA. To obey their Prior . 374 

27. DUMERIT AND FLORENTINE'S. To suppress robbery at Fa- 

ventia ........ 375 

28. CUNIGAST. Enforced slavery of Possessores (or Coloni ?) . 376 


cessity for sanitary measures . . . . .377 

30. GENESIUS. Same subject . . . . . .377 

31. SEVERUS. Dissuasions from a country life, and praises of Bruttii 378 

32. Fountain of Arethusa ..... 380 
33- Feast of St. Cyprian . . . . .381 



1. To HILDERIC. Murder of Amalafrida . . . .384 

2. EDICT. Oppression of the Curiales ..... 385 

3. To BERGANTINUS. Gold-mining in Italy . . . .387 

4. ABTJNDANTIUS. Curiales to become Possessores . . . 388 


grating prohibited ...... 389 

6. A CERTAIN PRIMISCRINIUS. Leave to visit Baiae . . 389 

7. EEPARATUS. Appointment to Praefecture of City . . 390 

8. OSUIN (or OSUM). Promotion to Governorship of Dalmatia 

and Savia ....... 391 


10. PROVINCIALS OF SYRACUSE. Eemission of Augmentum . 393 

11. GILDIAS. ( Oppression by King's i 

12. VICTOR AND WITIGISCLUS (or WIGISICLA). ( officers rebuked j 

13. WILLIAS. Increase of emoluments of Domestic! . . 394 

14. GILDIAS. Charge of oppression ..... 395 

15. POPE JOHN II. Against Simony at Papal elections . . 398 

1 6. SALVANTIUS. Same subject ..... 400 

17. Eelease of two Eoman citizens . . . 400 

18. EDICT. Offences against Civilitas . . . . .401 

19. To SENATE. Promulgation of Edict .... 405 

20. JUDGES OF PROVINCES. Same subject . . . .405 

21. SENATE. Increase of Grammarians' salaries . . . 406 

22. PAULINUS. Appointment as Consul .... 407 

23. SENATE. Same subject ...... 408 

24. SENATOR [CASSIODORUS HIMSELF]. Appointment as Praetorian 

Praefect, &c. . . . . . . .408 

25. SENATE. Eulogy of Cassiodorus on his appointment. His 

Gothic History. His official career. His military services. 

His religious character . . . . . 412-413 







Theodahad in the Sovereignty . . . . 4 : 5 


3. AMALASUENTHA TO SENATE. Same. Praises of Theodahad . 416 

4. THEODAHAD TO SENATE. Same. Praises of Amalasuentha . 418 

5. HIS MAN THEODOSIUS. Followers of new King to 

live justly . . . . . .421 

6. PATRICIUS. Appointment to Quaestorship . 422 

7. SENATE. Same subject . . . 4 22 

8. AMALASUENTHA TO JUSTINIAN. Acknowledging present of marbles 423 

9. THEODAHAD TO JUSTINIAN. Same subject . . . . 4 2 3 

10. AMALASUENTHA TO THEODORA. Salutation .... 4 2 4 

11. THEODAHAD TO MAXIMUS. Appointment to office of Primicerius . 424 

12. SENATE. Same subject. .... 425 

13. Summons to Ravenna. Suspicions of 

Senators . . . .426 

14. THE ROMAN PEOPLE. Dissensions between citi- 

zens of Rome and Gothic troops . 4 2 7 

15. EMPEROR JUSTINIAN. Letter of introduction for 

Ecclesiastic . . . . .428 

16. SENATE. Assurances of good-will . . . 428 

17. ,, THE ROMAN PEOPLE. Same subject . . 429 

1 8. SENATE. Gothic garrison for Rome . . 43 

19. JUSTINIAN. Embassy of Peter . . . 43 1 

20. QUEEN GUDELINA TO THEODORA, AUGUSTA. Embassy of Rusticus 432 

21. Soliciting friendship 433 

22. THEODAHAD TO JUSTINIAN. Entreaties for peace . . . 434 

23. GUDELINA TO THEODORA. Same subject .... 435 

24. JUSTINIAN. Same subject .... 436 

25. THEODAHAD TO JUSTINIAN. Same subject .... 436 

26. Monastery too heavily taxed . -437 

27. SENATOR. Corn distributions in Liguria and Venetia 438 

28. ,, Grant of monopolies . . 43 8 

29. WINUSIAD. Old soldier gets leave to visit baths 

of Bormio .... 44 

30. HONORIUS. Brazen elephants in the Via Sacra. 

Natural history of elephant . . 44 2 

31. KING WITIGIS TO ALL THE GOTHS. On his elevation . . 444 



32. KING WITIGIS TO JUSTINIAN. Overtures for peace . . -445 

33- THE MASTER OF THE OFFICES (at Constantinople). 

Sending of embassy . . . .447 

34- HIS BISHOPS. Same subject . . .448 

35- THE PRAEFECT OF THESSALONICA. Same subject . 448 



PREFACE ......... 449 

1. To SENATE. On his promotion to the Praefecture. Praises of 

Amalasuentha. Comparison to Placidia. Eelations with 
the East. Expedition against Franks. League with Bur- 
gundians. Virtues of Amal Kings . . . 45 2 ~457 

2. POPE JOHN. Salutations ...... 458 

3. DIVERS BISHOPS. The same ..... 459 

4. AMBROSIUS (HIS DEPUTY). Functions of Praefect's Deputy . 460 

5. THE SAME. Grain distributions for Eome . . .461 

6. JOANNES. Functions of the Cancellarius . . . 462 

7. JUDGES OF THE PROVINCES. Duties of tax-collectors . . 464 


Cassiodorus' principles of administration .... 465 

9. To JUDGES OF THE PROVINCES. Exhortation to govern in con- 

formity with Edict . . . . . .467 

10. BEATUS. Davus invalided to Mons Lactarius. The milk- 

cure for consumption ..... 468-469 

11. EDICT. Concerning prices to be maintained at Bavenna . . 469 

12. Concerning prices along the Flaminian Way . . 470 

13. THE SENATE TO EMPEROR JUSTINIAN. Supplications of the 

Senate . . . . . . . 471 

14. To GAUDIOSUS. Praises of Como. Eelief of its inhabitants . 474 

15. THE LIGURIANS. Eelief of their necessities . . -475 

1 6. THE SAME. Oppressions practised on them to be remedied . 476 

17. THE PRINCEPS (?). Promotions in Official Staff of Praetorian 

Praefect ........ 477 

l8 -35- VARIOUSLY ADDRESSED. [Documents, for the most part very 

short ones, relating to these promotions.] . . 477-480 

36. To ANAT(H)OLIUS. Eetirement of a Cornicularius on superannua- 

tion allowance justified on astronomical grounds . . 480 

37. LTJCINUS. Payment of retiring Primiscrinius . . -. 482 

38. JOANNES. Praises of paper ..... 483 

39. VITALIAN. Payment of commuted cattle-tax . . . 484 


CHURCH, PROBABLY EASTER]. General Amnesty . . . 485 






structions . . . . . . . 487 

2. ALL JUDGES OF THE PROVINCES. General instructions to 

Provincial Governors ...... 488 

3. SAJONES ASSIGNED TO THE CANCELLARII. General instructions . 489 

4. THE CANONICARIUS OF THE VENETIAE. Praise of Acinaticium . 490 

5. VALERIAN. Measures for relief of Lucania and Bruttii . 492 


instructions ....... 494 


of taxes on account of invasion by Suevi . . . 495 


to pay taxes direct to Royal Treasury . . -495 

9. PASCHASIUS. Claim of an African to succeed to estate of 

intestate countryman . .... 496 

10. DIVERS CANCELLARII. Taxes to be punctually enforced . 497 

11. PETER, DISTRIBUTOR OF RELISHES. Their due distribution . 498 

12. ANASTASIUS. Praise of the cheese and wine of Bruttii . 499 

13. EDICT. Frauds committed by revenue-officers on Churches . 500 

14. To ANASTASIUS. Plea for gentle treatment of citizens of 

Rhegium ....... 5 O1 

15. MAXIMUS. Praises of author's birthplace, Scyllacium . . 503 

1 6. A REVENUE OFFICER. Payment of Trina Illatio . . 56 

17. JOHN, SILIQUATARIUS OF RAVENNA. Defence of city . . 507 

18. CONSTANTIAN. Repair of Flaminian Way . 57 

19. MAXIMUS. Bridge of boats across the Tiber . . . 59 

20. THOMAS AND PETER. Sacred vessels mortgaged by Pope 

Agapetus to be restored to Papal See . 5 10 

21. DEUSDEDIT. Duties of a Scribe . . . . 5 11 

22. PROVINCIALS OF ISTRIA. Requisition from Province of Istria 513 

23. LAURENTIUS. Same subject . 5 J 5 


notice of Venice . . - 5 I 5 

25. AMBROSIUS, HIS DEPUTY. Famine in Italy . . . 5 l8 

26. PAULUS. Remission of taxes in consequence of famine . 5 20 

27. DATIUS. Relief of famine-stricken citizens of Ticinum, &c. ., 5 21 

28. EDICT [ADDRESSED TO LIGURIANS]. Relief of inhabitants . . 5 2 3 


P. 6, 1. 30, for ' Scylletium ' read ' Scylletion.' 

P. 24, n. I, for ' TJterwerfung ' read ' Unterwerfung.' 

In the 'Note on the Topography of Squillace' (pp. 68-72), and the map 
illustrating it, for ' Scylacium ' read ' Scyllacium.' (The line of Virgil, however, 
quoted on p. 6, shows that the name was sometimes spelt with only one ' 1.*) 

Pp. 94 and 96, head line, dele 'the.' 

P. 128 (Chronological Table, under heading 'Popes') for 'John III.' read 
'John II.' 

P. 146 (last line of text). S. Gaudenzi remarks that the addresses of the laws 
in the Code of Justinian forbid us to suppose that Heliodorus was Praetorian 
Praefect for eighteen years. He thinks that most likely the meaning of the 
words 'in ilia republica nobis videntibus praefecturam bis novenis annis gessit 
eximie ' is that twice in the space of nine years Heliodorus filled the office of 

P. 159, Letter 27 of Book I. The date of this letter is probably 509, as 
Importunus, who is therein mentioned as Consul, was Consul in that year. 

P. 1 60, Letter 29 of Book I. S. Gaudenzi points out that a letter has probably 
dropped out here, as the title does not fit the contents of the letter, which seems 
to have been addressed to a Sajo. 

In the titles of I. 14, 26, 34, 35, and II. 5 and 9, for ' Praepositus ' read 
' Praetorian Praefect.' The contraction used by the early amanuenses for Praefecto 
Praetorio has been misunderstood by their successors, and consequently many 
MSS. read 'Praeposito,' and this reading has been followed by Nivellius. There 
can be no doubt, however, that Garet is right in restoring ' Praefecto Praetorio.' 

On the other hand, I have been misled by Garet's edition into quoting the 
following letters as addressed Viro Senatori: I. 38 ; II. 23, 28, 29, 35 ; III. 8, 13, 
I 5> l6 > 2 7> 3 2 > 4 1 J IV. 10, 12, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 28; V. 21, 24. Here, too, the 
only MSS. that I have examined read ' Viro Senatori ; ' but Nivellius preserves 
what is no doubt the earlier reading, ' V. S.,' which assuredly stands for ' Viro 
Spectabili.' Practically there is no great difference between the two readings, 
and the remarks made by me on II. 29, 35, &c., as to Senators with Gothic 
names may still stand ; for as every Senator was (at least) a Clarissimus, it is 
not likely that any person who reached the higher dignity of a Spectabilis was 
not also a Senator. (See pp. 90 and 91.) 

P. 181, Letter 19 of Book II. Here again, on account of the want of corre- 
spondence between the title and contents of the letter, S. Gaudenzi suggests that 
a letter has dropped out. 


P. 182, title of Letter 20, for 'Unigilis' read 'Uniligis.' 

P. 205, 1. 6 from bottom, for ' Praefectum ' read ' Praefectorum.' 

P. 206, 1. i, for 'Provinces' read 'Provincials.' 

P. 224 (marginal note), for 'amphitheatre' read 'walls.' Last line (text), for 
'its 'read 'their.' 

P. 244, title of Letter 17, for 'Idae' some MSS. read 'Ibbae,' which is pro- 
bably the right reading, Ibbas having commanded the Ostrogothic army in Gaul 
in 510. 

P. 247, dele the last two lines. (The Peter who was Consul in 516 was an 
official of the Eastern Empire, the same who came on an embassy to Theodahad 
in 535-) 

P- 253, 1. 9, for '408' read '508.' 

P. 255, 11. 9, 14, and in margin, for 'Agapeta' read 'Agapita.' 

P. 256, 11. 1 6, 26, and in margin, for 'Velusian' read ' Volusian.' 

P. 256, title of Letter 43. S. Gaudenzi thinks this letter was really addressed 
to Argolicus, Praefectus Urbis. 

P. 269, 1. 20, dele 'possibly Stabularius.' 

P. 282, Letter 31 of Book V. (to Decoratus). As Decoratus is described in 
V. 3 and 4 as already dead, it is clear that the letters are not arranged in chro- 
nological order. 

P. 282, 1. 27, for 'upon' read 'before.' 

P. 288, 1. 25, for 'extortions' read 'extra horses.* 

P. 291, 1. 6, for ' Anomymus ' read ' Anonymus.' 

P. 308, 1. 7. This is an important passage, as illustrating the nature of the 
office which Cassiodorus held as Consiliarius to his father. 

P- 333> second marginal note, for ' aguntur' read 'agantur' (twice). 

P. 398, title of Letter 15, for '532 ' read '533-535.' 

P. 400, title of Letter 17, for 'between 532 and 534' read 'between 533 and 


P. 450, 1. 8. Probably, as suggested by S. Gaudenzi, Felix was Consiliarius to 




THE interest of the life of Cassiodorus is derived from 
his position rather than from his character. He was a 
statesman of considerable sagacity and of unblemished 
honour, a well-read scholar, and a devout Christian ; but 
he was apt to crouch before the possessors of power 
however unworthy, and in the whole of his long and 
eventful life we never find him playing a part which 
can be called heroic. 

His position, however, which was in m^re _aeiiseji_than Position 
one that of a borderer between two worlds, gives to the doruT on 
study of his writings an exceptional value. Born a few the con ' 
years after the overthrow of the Western Empire, a the An- 
Romannoble by his ancestry, a rhetorician-philosopher JjJ^JJ^ 
by his training, he became what we should call the dem. 
Prime MinistelTof the Ostrogothic King Theodoric ; he 
toiled with his master at the construction of the new 
state, which was to unite the vigour of Germany and 
the culture of Rome ; for a generation he saw this edifice, 
stand, and when it fell beneath the blows of Belisarius 
he retired, perhaps well-nigh broken-hearted, from the 
political arena. The writings of such a man could 
hardly fail, at any rate they do not fail, to give us many 


2 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

interesting glimpses into the political life both of the 
Romans and the Barbarians. It is true that they throw 
more light backwards than forwards, that they teach us 
far more about the constitution of the Roman Empire 
than they do about the Teutonic customs from whence 
in due time Feudalism was to be born. Still, they do 
often illustrate these Teutonic usages ; and when we 
remember that the writer to whom after Tacitus we 
are most deeply indebted for our knowledge of Teutonic 
antiquity, Jordanes, professedly compiled his ill-written 
pamphlet from the Twelve Books of the Gothic History 
of Cassiodorus, we see that indirectly his contribution 
to the history of the German factor in European civilisa- 
tion is a most important one. 

Thus then, as has been already said, Cassiodorus stood 
on the confines of two worlds, the Ancient and the Mo- 
dern ; indeed it is a noteworthy fact that the very word 
modern^_. occurs for th*e first time with any frequency 
-7 in his writings. Or, if the ever-shifting boundary be- 
-^ tween~Ancient and Modern be drawn elsewhere than in 
the fifth and sixth centuries, at any rate it is safe 
to say, that he stood on the boundary of jwo worlds, the 
Roman and the Teutonic. 

Also on But the statesman who, after spending thirty years at 
finest?" the Court of Theodoric and his daughter, spent thirty- 
Politics three years more in the monastery which he had himself 
ligion. erected at Squillace, was a borderer in another sense 
than that already mentioned a borderer between the 
two worlds of Politics and Religion ; and in this capacity 
also, as the contemporary, perhaps the friend, certainly 
the imitator, of St. Benedict, and in some respects the 
improver upon his method, Cassiodorus largely helped 
to mould the destinies of mediaeval and therefore oi 
modern Europe. 

I shall now proceed to indicate the chief points in the 
life and career of Cassiodorus. Where, as is generally 

Ancestry. 3 

the case, our information comes from his own correspon- 
dence, I shall, to avoid repetition, not do much more than 
refer the reader to the passage in the following collec- 
tion, where he will find the information given as nearly 
as may be in the words of the great Minister himself. 

The ancestors of Cassiodorus for three generations. His an- 
and their public employments, are enumerated for us in cestors - 
the letters (Var. i. 3-4) which in the name of Theo- 
doric he wrote on his father's elevation to the Patriciate. 
From these letters we learn that 

(1) Cassiodorus, the writer's great grandfather, who held Great 
the rank of an Illustris, defended the shores of Sicily f[*j^~ 
and Bruttii from the incursions of the Vandals. This 
was probably between 430 and 440, and, as we may 
suppose, towards the end of the life of this statesman, 

to whom we may conjecturally assign a date from 390 
to 460. 

(2) His son and namesake, the grandfather of our Grand- 
Cassiodorus, was a Tribune (a military rank nearly ather- 
corresponding to our ' Colonel ') and Notarius under 
Valentinian III. He enjoyed the friendship of the great 
Aetius, and was sent with Carpilio the son of that 
statesman on an embassy to Attila, probably between 

the years 440 and 450. In this embassy, according to 
his grandson, he exerted an extraordinary influence over 
the mind of the Hunnish King. Soon after this he 
retired to his native Province of Bruttii, where he 
passed the remainder of his days. We may probably 
fix the limits of his life from about 420 to 490. 

(3) His son, the third Cassiodorus, our author's father, Father, 
served under Odovacar (therefore between 476 and 492), 

as pomes Privatarum Rerum] and [Comes Sacrarum 

[ - . ~j__ '' ~ -r ~~ ^' "" 

Largitionuml These two offices, one of which nominally 
involved the care of the domainsjrf the Sovereign and 
the other the regulation ofhis private charities, were 
in fact the two great_financial offices of the Empire and of 
the barbarianToyalties whicn modelled their system upon 

B 2 

4 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

it. Upon the fall of the throne of Odovacar, Cassiodorus 
transferred his services to Theodoric, at the beginning of 
whose reign he acted as ff ovarnQr (Oonsularis 1 ) of_Sicily. 
In this capacity he showed much tact and skill, and 
thereby succeeded in reconciling the somewhat suspicious 
and intractable Sicilians to the rule of their Ostrogothic 
master. He next administered (as Corrector 1 ) his own 
native Province of 'Bruttii et Lucania 2 .' Either in 
the year 500 or soon after, he received from Theodoric 
the highest mark of his confidence that the Sovereign 
could bestow, being raised to the great place of 
Praetorian Praefect, which still conferred a semi-regal 
splendour upon its holder, and which possibly under a 
Barbarian King may have involved yet more partici- 
pation in the actual work of reigning than it had done 
under a Roman Emperor. 

The Praefecture of this Cassiodorus probably lasted 
three or four years, and at its close he received the high 
honour jrf the Patriciate. We are not able to name the 
exact date of his retirement from office ; but the im- 
portant point for us is, that while he still held this 
splendid position his son was first introduced to pub- 
lic life. To that son's history we may now proceed, 
for we have no further information of importance as 
to the father's old age or death beyond the intimation 
(contained in Var. iii. 28) that Theodoric invited him, 
apparently in vain, to leave his beloved Bruttii and 
return to the Court of Ravenna. 

Scyllacium (Squillace) about the year 480. His name, 
his birthplace, and his year of birth will each require a 
short notice. 

1 We get these titles from the Notitia Occidentis I. 

2 On the authority of a letter of Pope Gelasius, 'Philippo et Cassiodoro,' 
Usener fixes this governorship of Bruttii between the years 493 and 496 
(P- 76). 

Name. 5 

(i) Name. Magnus (not Marcus, as it has been some- Name, 
times incorrectly printed) is the author's praenomen. 
Aurelius, the gentile name, connects him with a large 
gens, of which Q. Aurelius Memmius Symmachus was one 
of the most distinguished ornaments. As to the form of Cassio- 
the cognomen there is a good deal of diversity of opinion, Jessie- * 
the majority of German scholars preferring Cassiodorius dorius. 
to Cassiodorus. The argument in favour of the former 
spelling is derived from the fact that some of the MSS. 
of his works (not apparently the majority) write the 
name with the termination rius, and that while it is easy 
to understand how from the genitive form ri a nominative 
r us might be wrongly inferred instead of the real nomi- 
native rius, it is not easy to see why the opposite 
mistake should be made, and rius substituted for the 
genuine rus. 

The question will probably be decided one way or the 
other by the critical edition of the ' Variae ' which is to 
be published among the 'Monumenta Germaniae Histo- 
rica ; ' but in the meantime it may be remarked that 
the correct Greek form of the name as shown by inscrip- 
tions appears to be Cassiodorus, and that in a poem of 
Alcuin's 1 occurs the line 

' Cassiodorus item Chrysostomus atque Johannes,' 

showing that the termination rus was generally accepted 
as early as the eighth century. It is therefore to be 
hoped that this is the form which may finally prevail. 

Senator, it is clear, was part of the original name of Senator. 
Cassiodorus, and not a title acquired by sitting in the 
Roman Senate. It seems a curious custom to give a title 
of this kind to an infant as part of his name, but the 
well-known instance of Patricius (St. Patrick) shows that 
this was sometimes done, and there are other instances 

1 De Pontificibus et Sanctis Ecclesiae Eboracensis, p. 843 of Migne's 
Second Volume of Alcuin's Works. I owe this quotation to Adolph 

6 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

(collected by Thorbecke, p. 34) of this very title Senator 
being used as a proper name. 

It is clear from Jordanes (who calls the Gothic History 
of Cassiodorus ' duodecem Senatoris volumina de origine 
actibusque Getarum 1 '), from Pope Vigilius (who speaks 
of ' religiosum virum filium nostrum Senatorem 2 '), from 
the titles of the letters written by Cassiodorus 3 , and 
from his punning allusions to his own name and the love 
to the Senate which it had prophetically expressed, that 
Senator was a real name and not a title of honour. 
Birth- (2} Scyllacium, the modern Squillace, was, according 
Scyila- ^ Cassiodorus, the first, either in age or in importance, 
cium. of the cities of Bruttii, a Province which corresponds 
pretty closely with the modern Calabria. It is situated 
at the head of the gulf to which it gives its name, on 
the eastern side of Italy, and at the point where the 
peninsula is pinched in by the Tyrrhene and Ionian 
Seas to a width of only fifteen miles, the narrowest 
dimensions to which it is anywhere reduced. The 
Apennine chain comes here within a distance of about 
five miles of the sea, and upon one of its lower depen- 
dencies Scyllacium was placed. The slight promontory 
in front of the town earned for it from the author of the 
Aeneid the ominous name of ' Navifragum Scylaceum 4 .' 
In the description which Cassiodorus himself gives of his 
birthplace (Var. xii. 15) we hear nothing of the danger 
to mariners which had attracted the attention of Virgil, 
possibly a somewhat timid sailor. The name, however, 
given to the place by the Greek colonists who founded 
it, Scylletium, is thought by some to contain an allu- 
sion to dangers of the coast similar to those which were 

1 Preface to Getica (Mommsen's Edition, p. 53). 

2 Epist. XIV. ad Rusticum et Sebastianum (Migne, p. 49). 

3 Nearly all the letters in the Xlth and Xllth Books of the Variae 
are headed ' Senator Praefectus Praetorio.' 

4 ' Adtollit se diva Lacinia contra, 
Caulonisque arces, et navifragum Scylaceum.' 

(iii. 552-3.) 

Birthplace. 7 

typified by the barking dogs of the not far distant 

According to Cassiodorus, this Greek city was founded The 
by Ulysses after the destruction of Troy. Strabo * attri- S 
butes the foundation of it to the almost equally wide- 
spread energy of Menestheus. The form of the name 
makes it probable that the colonists were in any case of 
Ionian descent ; but in historic times we find Scylletion 
subject to the domineering Achaian city of Crotona, 
from whose grasp it was wrested (B.C. 389) by the elder 
Dionysius. It no doubt shared in the general decay of 
the towns of this part of Magna Graecia consequent on 
the wars of Dionysius and Agathocles, and may very 
probably, like Crotona, have been taken and laid waste 
by the Bruttian banditti in the Second Punic War. 
During the latter part of this war Hannibal seems to 
have occupied a position near to, but not in, the already 
ruined city, and its port was known long after as Castra 
Hannibalis 2 . 

3 'A century before the end of the Republic, a city The 
much more considerable than that which had existed 
in the past was again established near the point where 
the Greek Scylletion had existed. Among the colonies 
of Roman citizens founded B.C. 123 on the rogation of 
Caius Gracchus, was one sent to this part of Bruttii, 
under the name of Colonia Minervia Scolacium, a name 
parallel to those of Colonia Neptunia Tarentum and 
Colonia Junonia Karthago, decided on at the same time. 
Scolacium is the form that we meet with in Velleius 
Paterculus, and that is found in an extant Latin inscrip- 
tion of the time of Antoninus Pius. This is the old 

1 P- 375 : ed - Oxon. 1807. 

2 Pliny (Hist. Nat. iii. 10) says: 'Dein sinus Scylacius et Scyllacium, 
Scylletium Atheniensibus, cum conderent, dictum : quern locum occnrrehs 
Terinaeus sinus peninsulam efficit : et in ea portus qui vocatur Castra 
Annibalis, nusquam angustiore Italia XX millia passuum latitude est.' 

3 I take the two following paragraphs from Lenormant's La Grande 
Grece, pp. 342-3. 

8 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

Latin form of the name of the town. Scylacium, which 
first appears as used by the writers of the first century 
of our era, is a purely literary form springing from the 
desire to get nearer to the Greek type Scylletion. 

' Scolacium, or Scylacium, a town purely Roman by 
reason of the origin of its first colonists, was from its 
earliest days an important city, and remained such till 
the end of the Empire. Pomponius Mela, Strabo, Pliny, 
and Ptolemy speak of it as one of the principal cities 
of Bruttii. It had for its port Castra Hannibalis. 
Under Nero its population was strengthened by a 
new settlement of veterans as colonists. The city then 
took the names of Colonia Minervia Nervia Augusta 
Scolacium. We read these names in an inscription 
discovered in 1762 at 1,800 metres from the modern 
Squillace, between that city and the sea an inscription 
which mentions the construction of an aqueduct bring- 
ing water to Scolacium, executed 143 A.D. at the cost 
of the Emperor Antoninus.' 

Appear- For the appearance of this Roman colony in the 

thecity seventh century of its existence the reader is referred 

at the to the letter of Cassiodorus before quoted (Var. xii. 15). 

Caesio- The picture of the city, ' hanging like a cluster of grapes 

dorus. upon the hills, basking in the brightness of the sun all 

day long, yet cooled by the breezes from the sea, and 

looking at her leisure on the labours of the husbandman 

in the corn-fields, the vineyards, and the olive-groves 

around her/ is an attractive one, and shows that kind 

of appreciation of the gentler beauties of Nature which 

befits a countryman of Virgil. 

This picture, however, is not distinctive enough to 
enable us from it alone to fix the exact site of the 
Roman city. Lenormant (pp. 360-370), while carefully 
distinguishing between the sites of the Greek Scylletion 
and the Latin Scolacium, and assigning the former 
with much apparent probability to the neighbourhood 
of the promontory and the Grotte di Stalletti, has been 

Date of Birth. 9 

probably too hasty in his assertion that the modern city 
of Squillace incontestably covers the ground of the Latin 
Scolacium. Mr. Arthur J. Evans, after making a much 
more careful survey of the place and its neighbourhood 
than the French archaeologist had leisure for, has come 
to the conclusion that in this identification M. Lenor- 
mant is entirely wrong, and that the Roman city was 
not at Squillace, where there are no remains of earlier 
than mediaeval times, but at Roccella del Vescovo, five 
or six miles from Squillace in a north-easterly direction, 
where there are such remains as can only have belonged 
to a Roman provincial city of the first rank. For a 
further discussion of the question the reader is referred 
to the Note (and accompanying Map) at the end of this 

We pass on from considering the place of Cassiodorus' 
birth to investigate the date of that event. 

(3) The only positive statement that we possess as to the Date of 
birth-year of Cassiodorus comes from a very late and 
somewhat unsatisfactory source. John Trittheim (or 
Trithemius), Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery of 
Spanheim, who died in 1516, was'one of the ecclesiastical 
scholars of the Renaissance period, and composed, besides 
a multitude of other books, a treatise ' De Scriptoribus 
Ecclesiasticis,' in which is found this notice of Cassio- 
dorus 1 : 

' Claruit temporibus Justini senioris usque ad imperii 
Justini junioris paene finem, annos habens aetatis plus 
quam 95, Anno Domini 575.' 

This notice is certainly not one to which we should 
attach much importance if it contradicted earlier and 
trustworthy authorities, or if there were any internal 

1 The reference is given by Kopke (Die Anfange des Kb'nigthums, p. 88) 
as 'De scr. ecc. 212 Bibliotheca Ecclesiastica, ed. Fabricius, p. 58;' by 
Thorbecke (p. 8) as 'Catalogus seu liber scriptorum ecclesiasticorum, 
Coloniae 1546, p. 94.' Franz (p. 4) quotes from the same edition as 
Kopke, 'De script, eccl. c. 212 in Fabricii biblioth. eccl., Hamburg! 
1728, iii. p. 58.' 

10 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

evidence against it. But if this cannot be asserted, it is 
not desirable entirely to discard the assertion of a scholar 
who, in the age of the Renaissance and before the havoc 
wrought among the monasteries of Germany by the 
Thirty Years' War, may easily have had access to some 
sources which are now no longer available. 

When we examine the information which is thus given 
us, we find it certainly somewhat vague. 'Cassiodorus 
was illustrious ' (no doubt as a writer, since it is ' eccle- 
siastici scriptores ' of whom Trittheim is speaking) ' in the 
time of Justin the Elder [518-527] down nearly to the 
end of the reign of Justin the Younger [565-578], 
attaining to more than 95 years of age in the year of our 
Lord 575.' But on reflection we see that the meaning 
must be that Cassiodorus died in 575 (which agrees well 
with the words 'paene finem imperii Justini junioris'), 
and that when he died he was some way on in his 96th 
year, or as we say colloquially 'ninety-five off.' The 
marvel of his attaining such an age is no doubt the 
reason for inserting the ' plus quam,' to show that he 
did not die immediately after his 95th birthday. If this 
notice be trustworthy, therefore, we may place the birth 
of Cassiodorus in 479 or 480. 

Now upon examining all the facts in our possession as 
to his career as a statesman and an author, and especially 
our latest acquired information 1 , we find that they do in 
a remarkable manner agree with Trittheim's date, while 
we have no positive statement by any author early or 
late which really conflicts with it. 

The only shadow of an argument that has been ad- 
vanced for a different and earlier date is so thin that it 
is difficult to state without confuting it. In some editions 
of the works of Cassiodorus there appears a very short 
anonymous tract on the method of determining Easter, 
called ' Computus Paschalis,' and composed in 562. In 
the ' Orthographia,' which was undoubtedly written by 

1 The Anecdoton Holderi. 

Date of Birth. 11 

Cassiodorus at the age of 93, and which contains a list 
of his previously published works, no mention is made of 
this ' Computus.' It must therefore, say the supporters of 
the theory, have been written after he was 93. He must 
have been at least 94 in 562, and the year of his birth 
must be put back at least to 468. In this argument 
there are two absolutely worthless links. There is no 
evidence to show that the ' Computus Paschalis ' came 
from the pen of Cassiodorus at all, but much reason to 
think that Pithoeus, the editor who first published it 
under his name, was mistaken in doing so. And if it 
were his, a little memorandum like this only two pages 
long, and with no literary pretension whatever we may 
almost say with certainty would not be included by the 
veteran author in the enumeration of his theological 
works prefixed to his ' Orthographia.' 

The reason why a theory founded on such an absurdly 
weak basis has held its ground at all, has probably 
been that it buttressed up another obvious fallacy. A 
whole school of biographers of Cassiodorus and commen- 
tators on his works has persisted, in spite of the plainest 
evidence of his letters, in identifying him with his father, 
who bore office under Odovacar (476-493). To do this 
it was necessary to get rid of the date 480 for the birth 
of Cassiodorus Senator, and to throw back that event as 
far as possible. And yet, not even by pushing it back to 
468, do they make it reasonably probable that a person, 
who was only a child of eight years old at Odovacar' s 
accession, could in the course of his short reign (the last 
four years of which were filled by his struggle with 
Theodoric) have held the various high offices which 
were really held during that reign by the father of 

We assume therefore with some confidence the year 
480 as the approximate date of the birth of our author ; 
and while we observe that this date fits well with those 
which the course of history induces us to assign to his 

12 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

ancestors in the three preceding generations 1 , we also note 
with interest that it was, as nearly as we can ascertain, 
the year of the birth of two of the most distinguished 
contemporaries of Cassiodorus Boethius and Benedict. 
Educa- Of the training and education of the young Senator 
we can on ty s P ea k from their evident results as dis- 

dorus. played in the ' Variae,' to which the reader is accordingly 
referred. It may be remarked, however, that though 
he evidently received the usual instruction in philosophy 
and rhetoric which was given to a young Eoman noble 
aspiring to employment in the Civil Service, there are 
some indications that the bent of his own genius was 
towards Natural History, strange and often laugh- 
able as are the facts or fictions which this taste of his 
has caused him to accumulate. 

Consili- In the year 500 2 , when Senator had just attained the 
to^Ms a g e f twenty, his father, as we have already seen, 
father, received from Theodoric the high office of Praetorian 
Praefect. As a General might make an Aide-de-camp 
of his son, so the Praefect conferred upon the young 
Senator the post of Consiliarius, or Assessor in his 
Court 3 . The Consiliarius 4 had been in the time of the 
Kepublic an experienced jurist who sat beside the 
Praetor or the Consul (who might be a man quite un- 
versed in the law) and advised him as to his judgments. 
From the time of Severus onwards he became a paid 
functionary of the Court, receiving a salary which 
varied from 13 to 72 solid! (^7 to ^43). At the time 
which we are now describing it was customary for 
the Judge to choose his Consiliarius from among 
the ranks of young jurists who had just completed 

1 Cassiodorus the First, born about 390; the Second, about 420; the 
Third, about 450. 

2 Or possibly 501. 

3 This fact, and also the cause of Senator's promotion to the Quaestorship, 
we learn from the Anecdoton Holderi described in a following chapter. 

4 The terms Adsessor, Consiliarius, napedpos, 'ZvpftovXos, seem all to 
indicate the same office. 

Early Training. 13 

their studies. The great legal school of Berytus 
especially furnished a large number of Consiliarii to 
the Roman Governors. In order to prevent an officer 
in this position from obtaining an undue influence over 
the mind of his principal, the latter was forbidden by law 
to keep a Consiliarius, who was a native of the Province 
in which he was administering justice, more than four 
months in his employ 1 . This provision, of course, would 
not apply when the young Assessor, as in the case of 
Cassiodorus, came with his father from a distant Pro- 
vince : and in such a case, if the Magistrate died during 
his year of office, by a special enactment the fairly- 
earned pay of the Assessor was protected from unjust 
demands on the part of the Exchequer 2 . The functions 
thus exercised by Senator in his father's court at Rome, 
' and the title which he bore, were somewhat similar to 
those which Procopius held in the camp of Belisarius, 
but doubtless required a more thorough legal training. 
In our own system, if we could imagine the Judge's 
Marshal invested with the responsibilities of a Registrar 
of the Court, we should perhaps get a pretty fair idea 
of the position and duties of a Roman Consiliarius 3 . 

It was while Cassiodorus was holding this agreeable Pane- 
but not important position, that the opportunity came {j^ 
to him, by his dexterous use of which he sprang at one doric. 
bound into the foremost ranks of the official hierarchy. 
On some public occasion it fell to his lot to deliver an 
oration in praise of Theodoric 4 , and he did this with 
such admirable eloquence admirable according to the 

1 Cod. Theod. i. la. i. 

2 This seems to be the meaning of Cod. Theod. i. 12. 2. The gains of 
the ' filii familias Assessores ' were to be protected as if they were ' cas- 
trense peculium.' 

3 Some points in this description are taken from Bethmann Hollweg, 
Gerichtsverfassung der sinkenden Romischen Reichs, pp. 153-158. 

4 ' Cassiodorus Senator . . . juvenis adeo, dum patris Cassiodori patricii 
et praefecti praetorii Consiliarius fieret et laudes Theodorichi regis 
Gothorum facundissime recitasset, ab eo quaestor est factus ' (Anecdoton 
Holder!, ap. Usener, p. 4). 

14 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

depraved taste of the time that Theodoric at once 
bestowed upon the orator, still in the first dawn of man- 
Appoint- hood 1 , the ' Illustrious ' office of Quaestor, giving him 
tor. U ' S thereby what we should call Cabinet-rank, and placing 
him among the ten or eleven ministers of the highest 
class 2 , by whom, under the King, the fortunes of the 
Gothic-Roman State were absolutely controlled. 
Nature The Quaestor's duty required him to be beyond all 
Quaes- other Ministers the mouthpiece of the Sovereign. In the 
tor s < Notitia 3 ' the matters under his control are concisely stated 
to be ' Laws which are to be dictated, and Petitions.' 

To him therefore was assigned the duty (which the 
British Parliament in its folly assigns to no one) of 
giving a final revision to the laws which received the 
Sovereign's signature, and seeing that they were con- 
sistent with one another and with previous enactments, 
and were clothed in fitting language. He replied in the 
Sovereign's name to the petitions which were presented 
to him. He also, as we learn from Cassiodorus, had 
audience with the ambassadors of foreign powers, to 
whom he addressed suitable and stately harangues, or 
through whom he forwarded written replies to the letters 
which they had brought, but always of course speaking 
or writing in the name of his master. In the perform- 
ance of these duties he had chiefly to rely on his own 
intellectual resources as a trained jurist and rhetorician. 

1 He himself says, or rather makes Theodoric's grandson say to him, 
' Quern primaevum recipiens ad quaestoris officium, mox reperit [Theodo- 
ricus] conscientia praeditum, et legum eruditione maturum ' (Var. ix. 24). 

2 At this time the Illustres actually in office would probably be the 
Praefectus Praetorio Italiae (Cassiodorus the father), the Praefectus 
Urbis Eomae, the two Magistri Militum in Praesenti, the Praepositus 
Sacri Cubiculi, the Magister Officiorum, the Quaestor, the Comes Sacrarum 
Largitionum, the Comes Kerum Privatarum, and the two Comites Domes- 
ticorum Equitum et Peditum. 

3 ' Sub dispositione viri illustris Quaestoris 

Leges dictandae 
Officium non habet sed adjutores de scriniis quos voluerit.' 

Quaestor. 15 

The large official staff which waited upon the nod of 
the other great Ministers of State was absent from his 
apartments l ; but for the mere manual work of copying, 
filing correspondence, and the like, he could summon the 
needful number of clerks from the four great bureaux 
(scrinia) which were under the control of the Master of 
the Offices. > "X 

We have Jin interesting summary of the Quaestor's 
duties and privileges from the pen of Cassiodorus himself 
in the ' Variae<(yi. .Bunder the title ' Formula Quaesturae,' 
and to this document I refer the reader who wishes to 
complete the picture of the occupations in which the 
busiest years of the life of Cassiodorus were passed. 

To a ruler in Theodoric's position the acquisition of Special 
such a Quaestor as Cassiodorus was a most fortunate ^ ^ lty 
event. He himself was doubtless unable to speak or to Quaestor 
write Latin with fluency. According to the common <j or i c> 
story, which passes current on the authority of the 
'Anonymus Valesii,' he never could learn to write, ^ 
and had to ' stencil ' his signature. I look upon this 
story with some suspicion, especially because it is also 
told of his contemporary, the Emperor Justin; but I 
have no doubt that such literary education as Theodoric 
ever received was Greek rather than Latin, being im- 
parted during the ten years of his residence as a host- 
age at Constantinople. Years of marches and counter- 
marches, of battle and foray, at the head of his Ostro- 
gothic warriors, may well have effaced much of the 
knowledge thus acquired. At any rate, when he 
descended the Julian Alps, close upon forty years of 
age, and appeared for the first time in Italy to commence 
his long and terrible duel with Odovacar, it was too 
late to learn the language of her sons in such fashion 
that the first sentence spoken by him in the Hall of 
Audience should not betray him to his new subjects as 
an alien and a barbarian. 

1 Officium non habet. 

16 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

Yet Theodoric was by no means indifferent to the 
power of well-spoken words, by no means unconcerned 
as to the opinion which his Latin-speaking subjects held 
concerning him. He was no Cambyses or Timour, ruling 
by the sword alone. His proud title was ' Gothorum 
jfomanorumque Rex/ and the ideal of his hopes, success- 
fully realised during the greater part of his long and 
tranquil reign, was to be equally the King of either 
people. He had been fortunate thus far in his Prae- 
torian Praefects. Liikfirins, a man of whom history 
knows too little, had amid general applause steered the 
vessel of the State for the first seven years of the new 
reign. The elder^Casgiodprus, who had succeeded him, 
seemed likely^oTbllow the same course. But possibly 
Theodoric had begun to feel the necessity laid upon all 
rulers of men, not only to be, but also to seem, anxious 
for the welfare of their subjects. Possibly some dull, 
unsympathetic Quaestor had failed to present the gene- 
rous thoughts of the King in a sufficiently attractive 
shape to the minds of the people. This much at all 
events we know, that when the young Consiliarius, 
high-born, fluent, and learned, poured forth his stream 
of panegyric on ' Our Lord Theodoric ' a panegyric 
which, to an extent unusual with these orations, reflected 
the real feelings of the speaker, and all the finest passages 
of which were the genuine outcome of his own enthu- 
siasm the great Ostrogoth recognised at once the man 
whom he was in want of to be the exponent of his 
thoughts to the people, and by one stroke of wise au- 
dacity turned the boyish and comparatively obscure 
Assessor into the Illustrious Quaestor, one of the great 
personages of his realm. 

The monument of the official life of Cassiodorus is the 

correspondence styled the 'Variae,' of which an abstract 

Compo- is now submitted to the reader. There is no need to say 

of the much here, either as to the style or the thoughts of these 

VABIAE. letters ; a perusal of a few pages of the abstract will give 

Composition of the ' Variae.' 17 

a better idea of both than an elaborate description. The Their 
style is undoubtedly a bad one, whether it be compared style * 
with the great works of Greek and Latin literature or with 
our own estimate of excellence in speech. Scarcely evei 
finrl a^JibrmprV^ clotheoLua^clear, precise 

fitting_words, or a metaphor which 

to the^j^sir^ i ciJ4ej L jhat is represented by it. We tak 
up sentence after sentence of verEose and flaccid Latin, 
analyse them with difficulty, and when at last we come 
to the centraHhought enshrouded in them, we too often 
find that it is the merest ^and most obvious common- 
place, a piece 

paper. Perhaps from one poinbT^vlBw^EEe^ studyof 
the style of Cassiodorus might prove useful to a writer 
of English, as indicating the faults which he has in this 
age most carefully to avoid. Over and over again, 
when reading newspaper articles full of pompous words 
borrowed from Latin through French, when wearied 
with ' velleities ' and ' solidarities ' and ' altruisms ' and 
' homologators,' or when vainly endeavouring to discover 
the real meaning which lies hidden in a jungle OP Par- 
liamentary verbiage, I have said to myself, remembering 
my similar labour upon the ' Variae,' ' How like this is 
to Cassiodorus.' 

Intellectually one of the chief deficiencies of our Lack of 
author a deficiency in which perhaps his age and humour * 
nation participated was a lack of humour. It is diffi- 
cult to think that anyone who possessed a keen sense 
of humour could have written letters so drolly unsuited 
to the character of Theodoric, their supposed author, as 
are some which we find in the 'Variae.' For instance, the 
King had reason to complain that Faust^f, the Prae- 
torian Praefect, was dawdling over the execution of an . 
order which he had received for the shipment of corn 
fr,om the regions of Calabria and Apulia to Rome. We 
find the literary Quaestor putting such words as these 
into the mouth of Theodoric, when reprimanding the 

18 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

The lazy official l : t Why is there such great delay in sending 
about your swift ships to traverse the tranquil seas? Though 
the suck- the south wind blows and the rowers are bending to 
their oars, has the sucking-fish 2 fixed its teeth into the 
hulls through the liquid waves ; or have the shells of the 
Indian Sea, whose quiet touch is said to hold so firmly 
that the angry billows cannot loosen it, with like power 
fixed their lips into your keels'? Idle stands the bark 
though winged by swelling sails ; the wind favours her 
but she makes no way; she is fixed without an anchor, 
she is bound without a cable ; and these tiny animals 
hinder more than all such prospering circumstances can 
help. Thus, though the loyal wave may be hastening 
its course, we are informed that the ship stands fixed on 
the surface of the sea, and by a strange paradox the 
swimmer [the ship] is made to remain immovable while 
the wave is hurried along by movements numberless. 
Or, to describe the nature of another kind of fish, per- 
chance the sailors in the aforesaid ships have grown dull 
and torpid by the touch of the torpedo, by which such 
a deadly chill is struck into the right hand of him who 
attacks it, that even through the spear by which it is 
itself wounded, it gives a shock which causes the hand 
of the striker to remain, though still a living substance, 
senseless and immovable. I think some such misfor- 
tunes as these must have happened to men who are 
unable to move their own bodies. But I know that in 
their case the echeneis is corruption trading on delays ; 
the bite of the Indian shell-fish is insatiable cupidity; 
the torpedo is fraudulent pretence. With perverted 
ingenuity they manufacture delays that they may seem 
to have met with a run of ill-luck. Wherefore let your 
Greatness, whom it specially concerns to look after 
such men as these, by a speedy rebuke bring them 
to a better mind. Else the famine which we fear, will 
be imputed not to the barrenness of the times but to 

1 Var. i. 35. 2 Echeneis. 

Character. 19 

official negligence, whose true child it will manifestly 

It is not likely that Theodoric ever read a letter like 
this before affixing to it his (perhaps stencilled) signa- 
ture. If he did, he must surely have smiled to see his 
few angry Teutonic words transmuted into this wonderful 
rhapsody about sucking-fishes and torpedoes and shell- 
fish in the Indian Sea. 

The French proverb Le style c'est I'homme,' is not Charac- 
altogether true as to the character of Cassiodorus. From * er . f 
his inflated and tawdry style we might have expected to dorus. 
find him an untrustworthy friend and an inefficient 
administrator. This, however, was not the case. As was 
before said, his character was not heroic ; he was, perhaps, 
inclined to humble himself unduly before mere power 
and rank, and he had the fault, common to most rhetori- 
cians, of over-estimating the power of words and thinking 
that a few fluent platitudes would heal inveterate dis- 
cords and hide disastrous blunders. But when we have 
said this we have said the worst. He was, as far as we 
have any means of judging, a loyal subject, a faithful 
friend, a strenuous and successful administrator, and an 
exceptionally far-sighted statesman. His right to this 
last designation rests upon the part which he bore in 
the establishment of the Italian Kingdom ' of the Goths / 
and Romans,' founded by the great Theodoric. 

Theodoric, it must always be remembered, had entered His work 
Italy not ostensibly as an invader but as a deliverer. ^the^ 
He came in pursuance of a compact with the legitimate policy of 
Emperor of the New Rome, to deliver the Elder Rome 
and the land of Italy from the dominion of ' the upstart 
King of Rugians and Turcilingians Y Odovacar. The 
compact, it is true, was loose and indefinite, and con- 
tained within itself the germs of that misunderstanding 
which, forty-seven years later, was developed into a 
terrible war, Still, for the present, Theodoric, King of 

1 Jordanes, De Kebus Geticis, Ivii. 
C 3 

20 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

the Ostrogoths, was also in some undefined way legi- 
timate representative of the Old Roman Empire within 
the borders of Italy. This double aspect of his rule was 
illustrated by that which (rather than the doubtful Rex 
Italiae) seems to have been his favourite title, ' Gotho- 
rum Romanorumque Rex.' 

Theo- The great need of Italy was peace. After a century 

fove C of f wars an d rumours of wars ; after Alaric, Attila, 
Cimlitas. and Gaiseric had wasted her fields or sacked her 
capital; after she had been exhausting her strength 
in hopeless efforts to preserve the dominion of 
Gaul, Spain, and Africa ; after she had groaned 
under the exactions of the insolent foederati, Roman 
soldiers only in name, who followed the standards of 
Ricimer or Odovacar, she needed peace and to be 
governed with a strong hand, in order to recover some 
small part of her old material prosperity. These two 
blessings, peace and a strong government, Theodoric's 
rule ensured to her. The theory of his govern- 
ment was this, that the two nations should dwelLside 
trT k v s ide, not Jused intojmej not subject either to the 
Ai\ other, but the Romans labouring at the arts of peace, 
the Goths wielding for their defence the sword of war. 
Over all was to be the strong hand of the King of Goths 
and Romans, repressing the violence of the one nation, 
correcting the chicanery of the other, and from one 
and all exacting the strict observance of that which 
was the object of his daily and nightly cares, CIVILITAS. 
Of this civilitas which we may sometimes translate 
'good order,' sometimes 'civilisation,' sometimes 'the 
character of a law-abiding citizen,' but which no English 
word or phrase fully expresses the reader of the fol- 
lowing letters will hear, even to weariness. But though 
we may be tired of the phrase, we ought none the less 
to remember that the thing was that which Italy stood 
most in need of, that it was secured for her during forty 
years by the labours of Theodoric and Cassiodorus, and 

Policy of Theodoric. 21 

that happiness, such as she knew not again for many 
centuries, was the result. 

But the theory of a warrior caste of Goths and Foresight 
a trading and labouring caste of Romans was not flat- ^Tin" 
tering to the national vanity of a people who, though aiding 
they had lost all relish for fighting, could not forget the 
great deeds of their forefathers. This was no doubt the 
weak point of the new State-system, though one cannot 
say that it is a weakness which need have been fatal if 
time enough had been given for the working out of the 
great experiment, and for Roman and Goth to become 
in Italy, as they did become in Spain, one people. The 
grounds upon which the praise of far-seeing statesman- 
ship may be claimed for Cassiodorus are, that notwith- 
standing the bitter taste which it must have had in his 
mouth, as in the mouth of every educated Roman, he 
perceived that here was the best medicine for the ills 
of Italy. All attempts to conjure with the great name 
of the Roman Empire could only end in subjection to 
the really alien rule of Byzantium. All attempts to 
rouse the religious passions of the Catholic against the 
heretical intruders were likely to benefit the Catholic 
but savage Frank. The cruel sufferings of the Italians 
at the hands of the Heruli of Belisarius and from the 
ravages of the Alamannic Brethren are sufficient justi- 
fication of the soundness of Cassiodorus' view that Theo- 
doric's State-system was the one point of hope for Italy. 

Allusion has been made in the last paragraph to the Hia 
religious differences which divided the Goths from the 
Italians. It is well known that Theodoric was an 
Arian, but an Arian of the most tolerant type, quite 
unlike the bitter persecutors who reigned at Toulouse 
and at Carthage. During the last few years of his 
reign, indeed, when his mind was perhaps in some 
degree failing, he was tempted by the persecuting policy 
of the Emperor Justin into retaliatory measures of per- 
secution towards his Catholic subjects, but as a rule his 

22 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

policy was eminently fair and even-handed towards the 
professors of the two hostile creeds, and even towards 
the generally proscribed nation of the Jews. So con- 
spicuous to all the world was his desire to hold the 
balance perfectly even between the two communions, 
that it was said of him that he beheaded an orthodox 
deacon who was singularly dear to him, because he had 
professed the Arian faith in order to win his favour. 
But this story, though told by a nearly contemporary 
writer 1 , is, it may be hoped, mere Saga. 

This did The point which we may note is, that this policy of 
ceed P from toleration or rather of absolute fairness between warring 
indiffer- cree( j Sj though not initiated by Cassiodorus, seems to 
have thoroughly commended itself to his reason and 
conscience. It is from his pen that we get those golden 
words which may well atone for many platitudes and 
some ill-judged display of learning: Religionem im- 
perare non possumus, quia nemo cogitur ut credent 
invitus*. And this tolerant temper of mind is the 
more to be commended, because it did not proceed from 
any indifference on his part to the subjects of religious 
controversy. Cassiodorus was evidently a devout and 
loyal Catholic. Much the larger part of his writings 
is of a theological character, and the thirty-five years 
of his life which he passed in a monastery were evi- 

' Bound each to each in natural piety ' 

with the earlier years passed at Court and in the 


Date of We cannot trace as we should like to do the precise 
mence" li m its of time by which the official career of Cassiodorus 
ment of W as bounded. The ' Various Letters ' are evidently not 
Variae. arranged in strict chronological order, and to but few 

1 Theodorus Lector (circa 550), Eccl. Hist. ii. 18. Both he and some 
later writers who borrow from him call the King 0eo5eptx os *A</>pos ; why, 
it is impossible to say. 

2 Var. ii. 27. 

Letters to Foreign Sovereigns. 23 

of them is it possible to affix an exact date. There 
are two or three, however, which require especial notice, 
because some authors have assigned them to a date 
previous to that at which, as I believe, the author 
entered the service of the Emperor. 

The first letter of the whole series is addressed to Letter 
the Emperor Anastasius. It has been sometimes con- ^aftus" 
nected with the embassy of Faustus in 493, or with 
that of Festus in 497, to the Court of Constantinople, 
the latter of which embassies resulted in the trans- 
mission to Theodoric of 'the ornaments of the palace' 
(that is probably the regal insignia) which Odovacar 
had surrendered to Zeno. But the language of the 
letter in question, which speaks of ' causas iracundiae,' 
does not harmonise well with either of these dates, 
since there was then, as far as we know, no quarrel 
between Ravenna and Constantinople. On the other 
hand, it would fit perfectly with the state of feeling 
between the two Courts in 505, after Sabinian the 
general of Anastasius had been defeated by the troops 
of Theodoric under Pitzias at the battle of Horrea 
Margi ; or in 508, when the Byzantine ships had made 
a raid on Apulia and plundered Tarentum. To one of 
these dates it should probably be referred, its place at 
the beginning of the collection being due to the exalted 
rank of the receiver of the letter, not to considerations 
of chronology. 

The fortieth and forty-first letters of the Second Letters 
Book relate to the sending of a harper to Clovis, or, as to 
Cassiodorus calls him, Luduin, King of the Franks. 
In the earlier letter Boethius is directed to procure 
such a harper (citharoedus), and to see that he is a first- 
rate performer. In the later, Theodoric congratulates 
his royal brother-in-law on his victory over the Ala- 
manni, adjures him not to pursue the panic-stricken 
fugitives who have taken refuge within the Ostrogothic 
territory, and sends ambassadors to introduce the harper 

24 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

whom Boethius has provided. It used to be thought 
that these letters must be referred to 496, the year of 
the celebrated victory of Clovis over the Alamanni, 
commonly, but incorrectly, called the battle of Tulbia- 
cum. But this was a most improbable theory, for it 
was difficult to understand how a boy of sixteen (and 
that was the age of Boethius in 496) should have 
attained such eminence as a musical connoisseur as 
to be entrusted with the task of selecting the citharoe- 
dus. And in a very recent monograph 1 Herr von 
Schubert has shown, I think convincingly, that the 
last victory of Clovis over the Alamanni, and their 
migration to Raetia within the borders of Theodoric's 
territory, occurred not in 496 but a few years later, 
probably about 503 or 504. It is true that Gregory 
of Tours (to whom the earlier battle is all-important, 
as being the event which brought about the conversion 
of Clovis) says nothing about this later campaign; but 
to those who know the fragmentary and incomplete 
character of this part of his history, such an omission 
will not appear an important argument. 

Letters to The letters written in Theodoric's name to Clovis, 
princes, to Alaric II, to Gundobad of Burgundy, and to other 
princes, in order to prevent the outbreak of a war 
between the Visigoths and the Franks, have been by 
some authors 2 assigned to a date some years before 
the war actually broke out ; but though this cannot, 
perhaps, be disproved, it seems to me much more 
probable that they were written in the early part of 
507 on the eve of the war between Clovis and Alaric, 
which they were powerless to avert. 

Duration More difficult than the question of the beginning 
dorut' S1 " f th e Quaestorship of Cassiodorus is that of its duration 
office. anc l its close. It was an office which was in its nature 

1 Die Uterwerfung der Alamannen : Strassburg, 1884. 

2 Especially Binding, Geschichte des Burgundisch-Romanischen Konig- 
reichs, p. 181. 

Consulship. 25 

an annual one. At the commencement of each fresh 
year ' of the Indiction/ that is on the first of September 
of the calendar year, a Quaestor was appointed; but 
there does not seem to have been anything to prevent 
the previous holder of the office from being re-appointed. 
In the case of Cassiodorus, the Quaestor after Theodoric's 
own heart, his intimate friend and counsellor, this may 
have been done for several years running, or he may 
have apparently retired from office for a year and then 
resumed it. It is clear, that whether in or out of 
office he had always, as the King's friend, a large 
share in the direction of State affairs. He himself says, 
in a letter supposed to be addressed to himself after 
the death of Theodoric 1 : ' Non enim proprios fines sub 
te ulla dignitas custodivit;' and that this was the fact 
we cannot doubt. Whatever his nominal dignity might 
be, or if for the moment he possessed no ostensible office 
at all, he was still virtually what we should call the 
Prime Minister of the Ostrogothic King 2 . 

In the year $14 he received an honour which, not- Consul- 
withstanding that it was utterly divorced from all real ^Lkfdo- 
authority, was still one of the highest objects of the rus, 514. 
ambition of every Koman noble: he was hailed as 
Consul Ordinarius, and gave his name to the year. 
For some reason which is not stated, possibly because 
the City of Constantinople was in that year menaced 
by the insurrection of Vitalian, no colleague in the East 
was nominated to share his dignity ; and the entry in 
the Consular Calendars is therefore ' Senatore solo 

In his own Chronicle, Cassiodorus adds the words, ' Me 
etiam Consule in vestrorum laude temporum, adunato 
clero vel [ = et] populo, Komanae Ecclesiae rediit optata 

1 ix. 24. 

2 Thorbecke has pointed out (pp. 40-41) that we possess letters written 
by Cassiodorus to four Quaestors before the year 510, and that therefore 
the fact of others holding the nominal office of Quaestor did not circum- 
scribe his activity as Secretary to Theodoric. 


The Life of Cassiodorus. 

to the 

concordia.' This sentence no doubt relates to the dis- 
sensions which had agitated the Koman Church ever 
since the contested Papal election of Symmachus and 
Laurentius in the year 498. Victory had been assured 
to Symmachus by the Synod of 501, but evidently the 
feelings of hatred then aroused had still smouldered on, 
especially perhaps among the Senators and high nobles 
of Rome, who had for the most part adopted the candi- 
dature of Laurentius. Now, on the death of Symmachus 
(July 1 8, 514) the last embers of the controversy were 
extinguished, and the genial influence of Cassiodorus, 
Senator by name and Consul by office, was successfully 
exerted to induce nobles, clergy, and people to unite in 
electing a new Pope. After eight days Hormisdas the 
Campanian sat in the Chair of St. Peter, an undoubted 

Not only in maintaining the dignity of the Consulship, 
but also in treating the Roman Senate with every out- 
ward show of deference and respect, did the Ostrogothic 
King follow and even improve upon the example of the 
Roman Emperors. The student of the following letters 
will observe the tone of deep respect which is almost 
always adopted towards the Senate ; how every nomina- 
tion of importance to an official post is communicated 
to them, almost as if their suffrages were solicited for 
the new candidate ; what a show is made of consulting 
them in reference to peace and war ; and what a reality 
there seems to be in the appeals made to their loyalty 
to the new King after the death of Theodoric. In all 
this, as in the whole relation of the Empire to the 
Senate during the five centuries of their joint existence, 
it is difficult to say where well-acted courtesy ended, 
and where the desire to secure such legal power as yet 
remained to a venerable assembly began. Perhaps when 
we remember that for many glorious centuries the 
Senate had been the real ruler of the Roman State, 
we may assert that the attitude and the language of 

Deference to the Senate. 27 

the successors of Augustus towards the Conscript 
Fathers were similar to those used by a modern House 
of Commons towards the Crown, only that in the one 
case the individual supplanted the assembly, in the 
other the assembly supplanted the individual. But 
whatever the exact relations between King and 
Senate may have been, and though occasionally the 
former found it necessary to rebuke the latter pretty 
sharply for conduct unbecoming their high position, 
there can be no doubt that the general intention of 
Theodoric was to soothe the wounded pride and flatter 
the vanity of the Roman Senators by every means in 
his power : and for this purpose no one could be so 
well fitted as Cassiodorus, Senator by name and by 
office, descendant of many generations of Roman nobles, 
and master of such exuberant rhetoric that it was 
difficult then, as it is often impossible now, to extract 
any definite meaning from his sonorous periods. 

It was possibly upon his laying down the Consulship, Cassiodo- 
that Cassiodorus received the dignity of Patrician a dig- 
nity only, for in itself it seems to have conferred neither 
wealth nor power. Yet a title which had been borne by 
Ricimer, Odovacar, and Theodoric himself might well ex- 
cite the ambition of Theodoric's subject. If our conjecture 
be correct that it was conferred upon Cassiodorus in the 
year 5 1 5, he received it at an earlier age than his father, 
to whom only about ten or eleven years before he had 
written the letter announcing his elevation to this high 

Five years after his Consulate, Cassiodorus undertook The 
a little piece of literary labour which he does not appear 
to have held in high account himself (since he does not 
include it in the list of his works), and which has cer- 
tainly added but little to his fame. This was his 
' Chronicon,' containing an abstract of the history of 
the world from the deluge down to A.D. 5 J 9> the vear 
of the Consulship of the Emperor Justin, and of Theo- 

28 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

doric's son-in-law Eutharic. This Chronicle is for the 
most part founded upon, or rather copied from, the well- 
known works of Eusebius and Prosper, the copying 
being unfortunately not correctly done. More than 
this, Cassiodorus has attempted with little judgment 
to combine the mode of reckoning by Consular years 
and by years of Emperors. As he is generally two or 
three years out in his reckoning of the former, this 
proceeding has the curious result of persistently throw- 
ing some Consulships of the reigning Emperor into the 
reign of his predecessor. 1 Thus Probus is Consul for 
two years under Aurelian, and for one year under 
Tacitus ; both the two Consulships of Carus and the 
first of Diocletian are under Probus, while Diocletian's 
second Consulship is under Carinus and Numerianus ; and 
so forth. It is wonderful that so intelligent a person 
as Cassiodorus did not see that combinations of this 
kind were false upon the face of them. 

When the Chronicle gets nearer to the compiler's 
own times it becomes slightly more interesting, but 
also slightly less fair. Throughout the fourth century 
a few little remarks are interspersed in the dry list of 
names and dates, the general tendency of which is to 
praise up the Gothic nation or to extenuate their faults 
and reverses. The battle of Pollentia (403 2 ) is unhesi- 
tatingly claimed as a Gothic victory; the clemency of 
Alaric at the capture of Rome (410) is magnified; the 
valour of the Goths is made the cause of the defeat 
of Attila in the Catalaunian plains (451); the name of 

1 It need hardly be explained that, as a matter of compliment to the 
reigning Emperor, the first Consulship that fell vacant after his accession 
to the throne was (I believe invariably) filled by him, and that though 
he might sometimes have held the office of Consul before his assumption of 
the diadem, this was not often the case. Certainly, in the instances given 
above, Probus, Carus, and Diocletian held no Consulships till after they 
had been saluted as Emperors. 

2 Clinton's date for this battle, 403, differs from that assigned by 
Cassiodorus, and is, in my judgment, erroneous. 

Chronicle. 29 

Gothic Eutharic is put before that of Byzantine Justin 
in the consular list ; and so forth. Upon the whole, as 
has been already said, the work cannot be considered as 
adding to the reputation of its author ; nor can it be de- 
fended from the terrible attack which has been made upon 
it by that scholar of our own day whose opinion upon 
such a subject stands the highest, Theodor Mommsen 1 . 
Only, when he makes this unfortunate Chronicle reflect 
suspicion on the other works of Cassiodorus, and es- 
pecially on the Gothic History 2 , the German scholar 
seems to me to chastise the busy Minister more harshly 
than he deserves. 

I have just alluded to the Gothic History of Cassio- The 
dorus. It was apparently shortly after the composition 
of his Chronicle 3 that this, in some respects his most 
important work, was compiled and arranged according 
to his accustomed habit in twelve books. His own 
estimate and it is not a low one of the value of this 
performance is expressed in a letter which he makes his 
young Sovereign Athalaric address to the Senate on his 
promotion to the Praefecture 4 : ' He extended his labours 
even to our remote ancestry, learning by his reading 
that which scarcely the hoar memories of our fore- 
fathers retained. He drew forth from their hiding-place 
the Kings of the Goths, hidden by long forgetfulness. 
He restored the Amals to their proper place with the 
lustre of his own 5 lineage (?), evidently proving that up 

1 Abhandlungen der philologisch-historischen Klasse der Koniglich 
Sachsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, iii. 547-696. 

2 'Dass die gauze Procedur von der iibelsten Art ist und den viel 
gefeierten gothischen Historiker in jeder weise compromittirt, bedarf 
keiner Ausaneindersetzung ' (I.e. 564). 

3 It could not have been written, at any rate in its present shape, before 
516, because Athalaric's birth is mentioned in it. I prefer Jordanes' date 
for this event, 516 or 517, to that given by Procopius, 518.) On the other * 
hand, Usener proves (p. 74), from the reference to it in the Anecdoton 
Holderi, that it could not have been written after 521. 

* Var. ix. 25. 

5 ' Iste Amalos cum generis sui claritate restituit.' Perhaps it is better 
to take ' sui ' as equivalent to ' illorum/ and translate * their lineage.' 

30 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

to the seventeenth generation we have had kings for our 
ancestors. He made the origin of the Goths a part of 
Roman history, collecting as it were into one wreath 
all the flowery growth which had before been scattered 
through the plains of many books. Consider therefore 
what love he showed to you [the Senate] in praising 
us, he who showed that the nation of your Sovereign 
had been from antiquity a marvellous people ; so that 
ye, who from the days of your forefathers have ever 
been deemed noble, are yet ruled over by the ancient 
progeny of Kings V 

Its pur- I n reading this estimate by Cassiodorus of his own 
performance, we can see at once that it lacked that first 
of all conditions precedent for the attainment of absolute 
historic truth, complete impartiality 2 . Like Hume and 
like Macaulay Cassiodorus wrote his history with a pur- 
pose. We may describe that purpose as two-fold : 

(i) To vindicate the claim of the Goths to rank among 
the historic nations of antiquity by bringing them into 
some sort of connection with Greece and Rome (' Origi- 
^ nem Gothicam historian! fecit esse Romanam') ; and 
(2) among the Goths, to exalt as highly as possible the 
family of the Amals, that family from which Theodoric 
had sprung, and to string as many regal names as 
possible upon the Arnal chain ('Evidenter ostendens 
in decimam septimam progeniem stirpem nos habere 
regalem '). 

I have said that the possession of a purpose like this 
is unfavourable to the attainment of absolute historic 
truth ; but the aim which Cassiodorus proposed to 
himself was a lofty one, being in fact the reconciliation 
of the past and the future of the world by showing to 

1 'Ut sicut fuistis a majoribus vestris semper nobiles aestimati, ita 
vobis rerum antiqua progenies imperaret.' For * rerum ' we must surely 
read ' regum.' 

2 My meaning would be better expressed by the useful German word 
' voraussetzungslosigkeit/ freedom from a foregone conclusion. 

History of the Goths. 31 

the outworn Latin race that the new blood which was 
being poured into it by the northern nations came, 
like its own, from a noble ancestry: and, for us, the 
labour to which it stimulated him has been full of 
profit, since to it we owe something like one half of 
our knowledge of the Teutonic ancestors of Modern 

The much-desired object of 'making the origin ofconfu- 
Gothic history Roman ' was effected chiefly by attribut- tweeiT" 
ing to the Goths all that Cassiodorus found written Goths 
in classic authors concerning the Getae or the Scythi-^ tae> 
ans. The confusion between Goths and Getae, though 
modern ethnologists are nearly unanimous in pronounc- 
ing it to be a confusion between two utterly different 
nations, is not one for which Cassiodorus is responsible, 
since it had been made at least a hundred years before 
his time. When the Emperor Claudius II won his great 
victories over the Goths in the middle of the Third 
Century, he was hailed rightly enough by the surname 
of Gothicus ; but when at the beginning of the Fifth 
Century the feeble Emperors Arcadius and Honorius 
wished to celebrate a victory which, as they vainly 
hoped, had effectually broken the power of the Goths, 
the words which they inscribed upon the Arch of Tri- 
umph were ' Quod Getarum nationem in omne aevum 
docuere extingui.' In the poems of Claudian, and gene- 
rally in all the contemporary literature of the time, the 
regular word for the countrymen of Alaric is Getae. 

The Greek historians, on the other hand, freely applied The term 
the general term Scythian as they had done at any time cy 
since the Scythian campaign of Darius Hystaspis to 
any barbarian nation living beyond the Danube and the 
Cimmerian Bosporus. With these two clues, or imagi- 
nary clues, in his hand, Cassiodorus could traverse a con- 
siderable part of the border-land of classical antiquity. 
The battles between the Scythians and the Egyptians, 
the story of the Amazons, Telephus son of Hercules and 

32 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

nephew of Priam, the defeat of Cyrus by Tomyris, and the 
unsuccessful expedition of Darius all were connected 
with Gothic history by means of that easily stretched 
word, Scythia. Then comes Sitalces, King of Thrace, 
who makes war on Perdiccas of Macedon ; and then, ' in 
the time of Sylla,' a certain wise philosopher-king of 
Dacia 5 Diceneus by name, in whose character and history 
Cassiodorus perhaps outlined his own ideal of wisdom 
swaying brute force. With these and similar stories culled 
from classical authors Cassiodorus appears to have filled 
up the interval which was to him of absolutely uncer- 
tain duration between the Gothic migration from the 
Baltic to the Euxine and their appearance as conquerors 
and ravagers in the eastern half of the Roman Empire 
in the middle of the third century of the Christian era. 
Now, soothing as it may have been to the pride of a 
Roman subject of Theodoric to be informed that his 
master's ancestors had fought at the war of Troy and 
humbled the pride of Perdiccas, to a scientific historian 
these Scytho-Getic histories culled from Herodotus and 
Trogus are of little or no value, and his first step in the 
process of enquiry is to eliminate them from ' Gothica 
historia,' thus making it, as far as he can, not ' Romana.' 
The question then arises whether there was another 
truly Gothic element in the history of Cassiodorus, and 
if so, what value can be attached to it. Thus enquiring 
we soon find, both before and after this intrusive Scytho- 
Getic element, matter of quite a different kind, which 
has often much of the ring of the true Teutonic Saga. 
It is reasonable to believe that here Cassiodorus, whose 
mission it was to reconcile Roman and Goth, and who 
could not have achieved this end by altering the history 
of the less civilised people out of all possibility of 
recognition by its own chieftains and warriors, has 
really interwoven in his work some part of the songs 
and Sagas which were still current among the older men 
who had shared the wanderings of Theodoric. This 

The Amal Pedigree. 33 

legendary portion, which Cassiodorus himself perhaps 
half despised, as being gathered not from books but 
from the lips of rude minstrels, is in fact the only part 
of his work which has any scientific value. 

In his glorification of the Amal line, Cassiodorus The 
follows more closely these genuine national traditions 
than in his history of the Gothic people. References to 
Herodotus and Trogus would have been here obviously 
out of place, and he accordingly puts before us a pedigree 
fashioned on the same model as those which we find in 
the Saxon Chronicle, and therefore probably genuine. By 
genuine of course is meant a pedigree which was really 
current and accepted among the people over whom Theo- 
doric ruled. How many of the links which form it repre- 
sent real historical personages is a matter about which 
we may almost be said neither to know nor care. We 
see that it begins in the approved fashion with 'Non puri 
homines sed semidei id est Anses 1 ,' and that the first of 
these half-divine ancestors is named Gaut, evidently the 
eponymous hero of the Gothic people. Some of the 
later links Amal, Ostrogotha, Athal have the same 
appearance of names coined to embody facts of the 
national consciousness. At the end of the genealogy 
appear the undoubtedly historical names of the imme- 
diate ancestors of Theodoric. It is noteworthy that 
several, in fact the majority of the names of Kings who 
figure in early Gothic history, are not included in this 
genealogy. While this fact permits us to doubt whether 
Cassiodorus has not exaggerated the pre-eminence of 
the Amal race in early days, it must be admitted to be 
also an evidence of the good faith with which he 
preserved the national tradition on these points. Had 
he been merely inventing, it would have been easy to 
include every name of a distinguished Gothic King 
among the progenitors of his Sovereign. 

1 Jordanes, De Reb. Get. xiii. 

34 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

Abstract Such then was the general purpose of the Gothic 
History of Cassiodorus. The book itself has perished 
a tantalising loss when we consider how many treatises 
from the same pen have been preserved to us which we 
could well have spared. But we can speak, as will 
be seen from the preceding remarks, with considerable 
confidence as to its plan and purpose, because we possess 
in the well-known treatise of Jordanes ' On the Origin 


of the Goths 1 ' an abbreviated copy, executed it is true 
by a very inferior hand, but still manifestly preserving 
some of the features of the original. It will not be 
necessary here to go into the difficult question as to 
the personality of this writer, which has been debated 
at considerable length and with much ingenuity by 
several German authors 2 . It is enough to say that 
Jordanes, who was, according to his own statement, 
.' agrammatus,' a man of Gothic descent, a notary, and 
then a monk 3 , on the alleged request of his friend 
Castalius, 'compressed the twelve books of Senator, 
de origine actibusque Getarum, bringing down the 
history from olden times to our own days by kings 
and generations, into one little pamphlet.' Still, accord- 
ing to his statement, which there can be little doubt is 
here thoroughly false, he had the loan of the Gothic 
History for only three days from the steward of 
Cassiodorus, and wrote chiefly or entirely from his 
recollection of this hasty perusal 4 . He says that he 

1 ' De Rebus Geticis,' or ' De Gothorum Origine,' is the name by which 
this little treatise is usually known. It seems to be doubtful, however, 
what title, if any, Jordanes himself prefixed to it. Mommsen calls it 
simply 'Getica.' 

2 Especially Schirren, ' De Eatione quae inter Jordanem et Cassiodorum 
intercedat' (Dorpat, 1858); Sybel, ' De Fontibus Libri Jordanis' (Berlin, 
1838); and Kopke, 'Die Anfange des Konigthums bei den Gothen' 
(Berlin, 1859). 

3 Possibly in the end Bishop of Crotona, or a Defensor of the Roman 
Church, since we find a Jordanes in each of these positions ; but this is 
mere guesswork, and to me neither theory seems probable. 

* 'Sed ut non mentiar, ad triduanam lectionem dispensatoris ejus 

Temporary Retirement. 35 

added some suitable passages from the Greek and Latin 
historians, but his own range of historical reading was 
evidently so narrow that we may fairly suspect these 
additions to have been of the slenderest possible 
dimensions. Upon the whole, there can be little doubt 
that it is a safe rule to attribute everything that is good 
or passable in this little treatise to Cassiodorus, and 
everything that is very bad, childish, and absurd in it 
to Jordanes. 

The literary labours of Cassiodorus, of which the Tempo- 
Gothic History was one of the fruits, were probably 
continued for two or three years after its completion 1 . 
At least there is reason to believe that he was not iif e (?). 
actively engaged in the service of the State during those 
terrible years (524 and 5^5) i n which the failing intellect 
of Theodoric, goaded almost to madness by Justin's 
persecution of his Arian co-religionists, condescended 
to ignoble measures of retaliation, which brought him 
into collision with Senate and Pope, and in the end 
tarnished his fame by the judicial murder of Boethius 
and Symmachus. It was fortunate indeed for Cassio- 
dorus if he was during this time, perhaps because of 
his unwillingness to help the King to his own hurt, 
enjoying an interval of literary retirement at Squillace. 
His honour must have suffered if he had abetted the 
intolerant policy of Theodoric ; his life might have been 
forfeit if he had openly opposed it. 

Whatever may have been the cause of the temporary 
obscuration of Cassiodorus, he was soon again shining in 

beneficio libros ipsos antehac relegi.' Notwithstanding the 'ut non 
mentiar,' most of those who have enquired into the subject have come 
to the opinion which is bluntly expressed by Usener (p. 73), ' Die 
dreitagige Frist die Jordanes zur Benutzung der 1 2 Bucher gehabt haben 
will, ist natiirlich Schwindel? Even by an expert precis-writer a loan 
of three months would be much more probably needed for the purpose 
indicated by Jordanes than one of three days. 
1 This was probably 521 at latest. 

D % 

36 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

Cassiodo- all the splendour of official dignity ; for when Theodoric 
Master died, h* 8 old and trusted minister was holding pro- 
of the bably not for the first time in his official career 1 the 
g reat P lace of Master of the Offices. 

The Magister Officiorum, whose relation to the other 
members of the Cabinet of the Sovereign was some- 
what indefinite, and who was in fact constantly trying 
to enlarge the circle of his authority at their expense, 
was at the head of the Civil Service of the Roman 
Empire, and afterwards occupied a similar position 
in the Ostrogothic State. It was said of him by the 
Byzantine orator Priscus (himself a man who had been 
engaged in important embassies), ' Of all the counsels 
of the Emperor the Magister is a partaker, inasmuch 
as the messengers and interpreters and the soldiers em- 
ployed on guard at the palace are ranged under him.' 
Quite in harmony with this general statement are the 
more precise indications of the ' Notitia.' There, ' under the 
disposition of the illustrious Magister Officiorum,' we find 
five Scholae, which seem to have been composed of house- 
hold troops 2 . Then comes the great Schola of the Agentes 
in rebus and their deputies a mighty army of ' king's 
messengers,' who swarmed through all the Provinces of 
the Empire, executing the orders of the Sovereign, and 
earning gold and hatred from the helpless Provincials 
among whom their errands lay. In addition to these the 
four great stationary bureaux the Scrinium Memoriae, 
Scrinium Dispositionum, Scrinium Epistolarum, and Scri- 
nium Libellorum the offices whose duty it was to con- 
duct the correspondence of the Sovereign with foreign 
powers, and to answer the petitions of his own subjects, 
all owned the Master of the Offices as their head. More- 

1 The language of Cassiodorus in Var. ix. 24 implies that he had held 
this office for a considerable time before the death of Theodoric. Usener 
thinks that he was made Magister Officiorum for the first time about the 
year 518. 

2 They are ' Scutariorum prima, secunda et tertia, armaturarum seniorum 
et gentilium seniorum' (Notitia Occidentis, cap. ix.). 

Master of the Offices. 37 

over, the great arsenals (of which there were six in Italy, 
at Concordia, Verona, Mantua, Cremona, Ticinum, and 
Lucca) received their orders from the same official. An 
anomalous and too widely dispersed range of functions 
this seems according to our ideas, including something of 
the Secretaryship for Foreign Affairs, something of the 
Home Secretaryship, and something of the War Office 
and the Horse Guards. Yet, as if this were not enough, 
there was also transferred to him from the office of the 
Praetorian Praefect the superintendence of the Cursus 
Publicus, that excellent institution by which facilities for 
intercourse were provided between the capital and the 
most distant Provinces, relays of post-horses being kept 
at every town, available for use by those who bore 
properly signed 'letters of evection.' Thus to the 
multifarious duties of the Master of the Offices was added 
in effect the duty of Postmaster-General. It was found 
however in practice to be an inconvenient arrangement 
for the Master of the Offices to have the control of the 
services of the * public horses,' while the Praetorian 
Praefect remained responsible for the supply of their 
food ; and the charge of the Cursus Publicus was accord- 
ingly retransferred at any rate in the Eastern Empire 
to the office of the Praefect, though the letters of evection 
still required the counter-signature of the Master x . 

Such was the position of Cassiodorus when, on the Death 
3oth of August, 526, by the death of Theodoric, he lost a or i C) e 
the master whom he had served so long and so faithfully. Au s- 3, 
The difficulties which beset the new reign are pretty 
clearly indicated in the letters which Cassiodorus pub- 
lished in the name of the young King Athalaric, Theo- 
doric's grandson, and which are to be found in the 

1 This is the account of the matter given by Lydus (De Magistratibus 
ii. 10); but as the Notitia (Or. xi.) puts the 'Curiosus Cursus Public! 
Praesentalis ' under the disposition of the Magister Officiorum, the re- 
transfer had probably not then taken place. It would seem also from 
the Formula of Cassiodorus (Var. vi. 6) that in his time the Magister 
Officiorum still had the charge of the Cursus Publicus. 

38 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

Eighth Book of the 'Variae.' Athalaric himself being 
only a boy of eight or ten years of age, supreme power 
was vested in his mother Amalasuentha, with what title 
we are unable to say, but apparently not with that of 
Queen. This Princess, a woman of great and varied 
accomplishments, perhaps once a pupil, certainly a friend, 
of Cassiodorus, ruled entirely in accordance with the 
maxims of his statesmanship, and endeavoured with 
female impulsiveness to carry into effect his darling 
scheme of Komanising the Goths. During the whole 
of her regency we may doubtless consider Cassiodorus 
as virtually her Prime Minister, and the eight years 
which it occupied were without doubt that portion of 
his life in which he exercised the most direct and unques- 
tioned influence on State affairs. 

Services His services at the commencement of the new reign 

dorus " will be best described in his own words : ' Nostris quoque 

to the principiis 1 ' (the letter is written in Athalaric's name) 

Amaiasu- ' quanto se labore concessit, cum novitas regni multa 

entha. posceret ordinari ? Erat solus ad universa sufficiens. 

Ipsum dictatio publica, ipsum consilia nostra poscebant ; 

et labore ejus actum est ne laboraret imperium. Repe- 

rimus eum quidem Magistruwi sed implevit nobis 

Quaestoris officium: et mercedes justissima devotione 

persolvens, cautelam, quam ab auctore nostro didicerat, 

libenter haeredis utilitatibus exhibebat V 

Fears of Cassiodorus then goes on to describe how he laboured 
invasion. ^ ^ g young Sovereign with the sword as well as with 
the pen. Some hostile invasion was dreaded, perhaps 
from the Franks, or, more probably, from the Vandals, 
whose relations with the Ostrogoths at that time were 
strained, owing to the murder of Theodoric's sister 
Amalafrida by Hilderic the Vandal King. Cassiodorus 
provided ships and equipped soldiers at his own expense, 

1 Variarum ix. 25. 

2 The meaning apparently is : ' The experience which he had gained in 
Theodoric's service was employed for the advantage of his grandson.' 

Praetorian Praefect. 39 

probably for the defence of his beloved Province of 
Bruttii. The alarm of war passed away, but difficulties 
appear to have arisen owing to the sudden cancellation 
of the contracts which had been entered into when 
hostilities seemed imminent; and to these difficulties 
Cassiodorus tells us that he brought his trained expe- 
rience as an administrator and a judge, resolving them 
so as to give satisfaction to all who were concerned. 

Seven years of Amalasuentha's regency thus passed, Cassio- 
and now at length, at fifty-three years of age, Cassio- ^prae 
dorus was promoted (Sept. i, 533) to the most distin- torian 
guished place which a subject could occupy. He received ^ ec ' 
from Amalasuentha the office of Praetorian Praefect.^ As 
thirty-three years had elapsed since his father was 
invested with the same dignity, we may fairly conjec- 
ture that father and son both climbed this eminence at 
the same period of their lives ; yet, considering the extra- 
ordinary credit which the younger Cassiodorus enjoyed 
at Court, we might have expected that he would have 
been clothed with the Praefecture before he attained the 
fifty-third year of his age. And, in fact, he hints in the 
letter composed by him, in which he informs himself of 
his own elevation 1 , that that elevation had been some- 
what too long delayed, though the reason which he alleges 
for the delay (namely, that the people might greet the 
new Praefect the more heartily 2 ) is upon the face of it 
not the true cause. 

The majesty of the Praetorian Praefect's office is fully 
dwelt upon and its functions described in a letter in the torian 
following collection 3 , to which the reader is referred. 
Originally only the chief officer of those Praetorian troops 
in Rome by whom the Emperor was guarded, until, as 

1 Var. ix. 24. 

2 'Diutius quidem differendo pro te cunctorum vota lassavimus, ut 
benevolentiam in te probaremus generalitatis, et cunctis desiderabilior 

3 Var. vi. 3. 

40 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

was so often the case, he was in some fit of petulance by 
the same pampered sentinels dethroned, the Praefectus 
Praetorio had gradually become more and more of a 
judge, less and less of a soldier. In the great changes 
wrought by Constantine the Praetorian guards disap- 
peared somewhat in the same fashion after which the 
Janissaries were removed by Sultan Mahmoud. The Prae- 
torian Praefect's dignity, however, survived, and though 
he lost every shred of military command he became or 
continued to be the first civil servant of the Empire. 
Cassiodorus is fond of comparing him to Joseph at the 
Court of Pharaoh, nor is the comparison an inapt one. 
In the Constantinople of our own day the Grand Vizier 
holds a position not altogether unlike that which the 
Praefect held in the Court of Arcadius and Theodosius. 
' The office of this Praefect,' said one who had spent his 
life as one of his subordinates 1 , 'is like the Ocean, en- 
circling all other offices and ministering to all their needs. 
The Consulate is indeed higher in rank than the Praefec- 
ture, but less in power. The Praefect wears a mandye, or 
woollen cloak, dyed with the purple of Cos, and differing 
from the Emperor's only in the fact that it reaches not 
to the feet but to the knees. Girt with his sword he 
takes his seat as President of the Senate. When that 
body has assembled, the chiefs of the army fall prostrate 
before the Praefect, who raises them and kisses each in 
turn, in order to express his desire to be on good terms 
with the military power. Nay, even the Emperor him- 
self walks (or till lately used to walk) on foot from his 
palace to meet the Praefect as he moves slowly towards 
him at the head of the Senate. The insignia of the 
Praefect's office are his lofty chariot, his golden reed- 
case [pen-holder], weighing one hundred pounds, his 
massive silver inkstand, and silver bowl on a tripod of 
the same metal to receive the petitions of suitors. Three 

1 Joannes Lydus, De Dignitatibus ii. 7, 8, 9, 13, 14. 

Office of the Praetorian Praefect. 41 

official yachts wait upon his orders, and convey him from 
the capital to the neighbouring Provinces.' 

The personage thus highly placed had a share in the The 
government of the State, a share which the Master of 
the Offices was for ever trying to diminish, but which, feet as 
in the hands of one who like Cassiodorus was persona 
grata at the Court, might be made not only important 
but predominant l . The chief employment, however, of 
the ordinary Praefectus Praetorio consisted in hearing 
appeals from the Governors of the Provinces. When 
the magical words 'Provoco ad Caesarem' had been 
uttered, it was in most cases before the Praetorian 
Praefect that the appeal was practically heard ; and when ^~\ 
the Praetorian Praefect hadj3ronounced his decisionpniy~' 
appeal from that was' permitted, even to the Emperor I 

l "" TJT9 ' ' " " ' " 

nimseli . ^) 

Cassiodorus held the post of Praetorian Praefect, amid Letters 
various changes in the fortunes of the State, from 533 to ^^ 
538, or perhaps a year or two longer. Of his activity in the Prae- 
the domain of internal administration, the Eleventh and oTcassio- 
Twelfth Books of the ' Variae ' give a vivid and interesting dorus - 
picture. Unfortunately, neither those books nor the 
Tenth Book of the same collection, which contains the 
letters written by him during the same time in the 
names of the successive Gothic Sovereigns, give any 
sufficient information as to the real course of public 

1 Bethmann Hollweg (pp. 75, 76) enumerates the functions of the Praeto- 
rian Praefect thus : ' (i) Legislative. He promulgated the Imperial laws, 
and issued edicts which had almost the force of laws. (2) Financial. The 
general tax (indictio, delegatio) ordered by the Emperor for the year, was 
proclaimed by each Praefect for his own Praefecture. Through his officials 
he took part in the levy of the tax, and had a special State-chest (area 
praetoria) for the proceeds. (3) Administrative. The Praefect proposed 
the names of provincial governors, handed to them their salaries, had a. 
general oversight of them, issued rescripts on the information furnished 
by them, and could as their ordinary Judge inflict punishments upon 
them, even depose them from their offices, and temporarily nominate substi- 
tutes to act in their places. (4) Judicial, as the highest Judge of Appeal.' 

2 See authorities quoted by Bethmann Hollweg, pp. 79, 80. 

42 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

events. Great misfortunes, great crimes, and the move- 
ments of great armies are covered over in these docu- 
ments by a veil of unmeaning platitudes and hypocritical 
compliments. In order to enable the student to 'read 
between the lines,' and to pierce through the verbiage 
of these letters to the facts which they were meant to 
hint at or to conceal, it will be necessary briefly to 
describe the political history of the period as we learn 
it from the narratives of Procopius and Jordanes nar- 
ratives which may be inaccurate in a few minor details 
but are doubtless correct in their main outlines. 
Opposi- The Romanising policy of the cultivated but somewhat 
Koman- self-willed Princess Amalasuentha met with considerable 

i f PP os ition on the P ar t f ner Gothic subjects. Above all, 
Amaiasu- they objected to the bookish education which she was 
entha. giving to her son, the young King. They declared that 
it was entirely contrary to the maxims of Theodoric that 
a young Goth should be trembling before the strap of a 
pedagogue when he ought to be learning to look un- 
falteringly on spear and sword. These representations 
were so vigorously made, and by speakers of such high 
rank in the State, that Amalasuentha was compelled to 
listen to them, to remove her son from the society of his 
teachers, and to allow him to associate with companions 
of his own age, who, not being wisely chosen, soon 
initiated him in every kind of vice and dissipation. 
Amala- The Princess, who had not forgiven the leaders of the 
puts Gothic party for their presumptuously offered counsels, 
Gothic s ^ n ^ e( i ou t three of the most powerful nobles who were 
nobles at the head of that party and sent them into honourable 
to death, banishment at the opposite ends of Italy. Finding, 
however, that they were still holding communication 
with one another, she sent to the Emperor Justinian to 
ask if he would give her an asylum in his dominions 
if she required it, and then gave orders for the secret 
assassination of the three noblemen. The coup d'etat 
succeeded : she had no need to flee the country ; and the 

Regency of Amalasuentha. 43 

ship bearing the royal treasure, which amounted to 
40,000 pounds weight of gold, which she had sent to 
Dyrrhachium to await her possible night, was ordered 
to return home. 

Athalaric's health was now rapidly failing, owing to Embas- 
his licentious excesses, and Amalasuentha, fearing that tweerT 
after his death her own life might be in danger, began Ravenna 
again secretly to negotiate with Justinian for the entire Constan- 
surrender of the kingdom of Italy into his hands, on tin P le - 
receiving an assurance of shelter and maintenance at 
the Court of Byzantium. These negotiations were 
masked by others of a more public kind, in which 
Justinian claimed the Sicilian fortress of Lilybaeum, 
which had once belonged to the Vandals ; insisted on 
the surrender of some Huns, deserters from the army 
of Africa; and demanded redress for the sack by the 
Goths of the Moesian city of Gratiana. These claims 
Amalasuentha met publicly with a reply as brave and 
uncompromising as her most patriotic subjects could 
desire, but in private, as has been already said, she was 
prepared, for an adequate assurance of personal safety, 
to barter away all the rights and liberties of her Italian 
subjects, Roman as well as Gothic, and to allow her 
father's hard-earned kingdom to sink into a mere 
dependency of Constantinople. 

Such was the position of affairs when on the 2nd Octo- Death 
ber 534, little more than a year after Cassiodorus had don- ariCj 
ned the purple of the Praefect, Athalaric died, and by his Oct - 2 > 
death the whole attitude of the parties to the negotiations 
was changed. The power to rule, and with it the very 
power to make terms of any kind with the Emperor, was 
in danger of slipping from the hands of Amalasuentha. 
The principle of female sovereignty was barely accepted 
by any Teutonic tribe. Evidently the Ostrogoths had not 
accepted it, or Amalasuentha would have ruled as Queen 
in her own right instead of as Regent for her son. In 
order to strengthen her position, and ensure her acceptance 

44 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

as Sovereign by the Gothic warriors, she decided to asso- 
ciate with herself, not in matrimony, for he was already 
married, but in regal partnership, her cousin Theodahad, 
the nearest male heir of Theodoric, and to mount the 
throne together with him. Previously, however, to an- 
nouncing this scheme in public, she sent for Theodahad 
and exacted from him ' tremendous oaths l ' that if he 
were chosen King he would be satisfied with the mere 
name of royalty, leaving her as much of the actual sub- 
stance of power as she possessed at that moment. 
Amala- The partnership-royalty and the oath of self-abnegation 
associates were the desperate expedients of a woman who knew 
Theoda- herself to have mighty enemies among her subjects, and 
the Sove- who felt power slipping from her grasp. With one side 
reignty. o f j^r character her new partner could sympathise ; for 
Theodahad, though sprung from the loins of Gothic war- 
riors, was a man of some literary culture, who preferred 
poring over the ' Kepublic ' of Plato to heading a charge 
of the Gothic cavalry. But his acquaintance with Latin 
and Greek literature had done nothing to ennoble his 
temper or expand his heart. A cold, hard, avaricious 
soul, he had been entirely bent on adding field to field 
and removing his neighbour's landmark, until the vast 
possessions which he had received from the generosity of 
Theodoric should embrace the whole of the great Tuscan 
plain. It will be seen by referring to two letters in the 
following collection 2 that Theodoric himself had twice 
employed the pen of Cassiodorus to rebuke the rapacity 
of his nephew ; and at a more recent date, since the begin- 
ning of Athalaric's illness, Amalasuentha had been com- 
pelled by the complaints of her Tuscan subjects to issue 
a commission of enquiry, which had found Theodahad 
guilty of the various acts of land-robbery which had 
been charged against him, and had compelled him to 
make restitution. 

1 opKois Sfivordrois. 2 Variaruin iv. 39 and v. 12. 

Crimes of Theodahad. 45 

The new Queen persuaded herself, and tried to per- Amaia- 
suade her cousin, that this ignominious sentence had in i^ tlla 
some way put the subject of it straight with the world, posed and 
and had smoothed his pathway to the throne. She e ^y S E 
trusted to his gratitude and his tremendous oaths for Theoda - 
her own undisturbed position at the helm of the State, April 30, 
but she found before many months of the joint reign had 535< 
passed that the reed upon which she was leaning was 
about to pierce her hand. Only four letters, it will be 
seen, of the following collection were written by order 
of Amalasuentha after the commencement of the joint 
reign. Soon Theodahad felt himself strong enough to 
hurl from the throne the woman who had dared to 
compel him to draw back the boundary of his Tuscan 
latifundium. The relations of the three noblemen 
whom Amalasuentha had put to death gathered gladly 
round him, eager to work out the blood-feud; and by 
their help he slew many of the strongest supporters 
of the Queen, and shut her up in prison in a little 
lonely island upon the lake of Vulsinii. This event 
took place on the 3oth of April, 535, not quite seven 
months after the death of Athalaric 1 . 

During all these later months there had been a 
perpetual flux and reflux of diplomatic communications 
between Kavenna and Constantinople. The different 
stages of the negotiations are marked, apparently with 
clearness, by Procopius ; but it is not always easy to 
harmonise them with the letters published by Cassio- 
dorus, who either did not write, or shrank from repub- 
lishing, some of the most important letters to the Em- 
peror. This remark applies to the missive which was 
probably taken by the Senators Liberius and Opilio, 
who were now sent by Theodahad to Justinian to 
apologise for the imprisonment of Amalasuentha, and 

1 The dates of the death of Athalaric and deposition of Amalasuentha are 
given by Agnellus in his Liber Pontificalia Ecclesiae Ravennatis, p. 322 (in 
the edition comprised in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica). 

46 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

Embassy to promise that she should receive no injury. Mean- 
of Peter. p e ter, a rhetorician and an ex-Consul, was travel- 

ling from Constantinople with a commission the cha- 
racter of which was being constantly changed by the 
rapid current of events. He started with instructions 
to complete the transaction with Amalasuentha as to 
the surrender of Italy, and to buy from Theodahad, 
who was still a private individual, his possessions in 
Tuscany. Soon after his departure he met the ambas- 
sadors, who told him of the death of Athalaric and the 
accession of Theodahad. On the shores of the Hadriatic 
he heard of Amalasuentha' s captivity. He waited for 
further instructions from his master, and on his arrival 
at Ravenna he found that all was over. The letter 
which he was to have handed to the deposed Queen, 
assuring her of Justinian's protection, was already 
obsolete. The kinsmen of the three nobles had been 
permitted or encouraged by Theodahad to end the blood- 
Death of feud bloodily. They had repaired to the Lake of Vul- 
suentha s ^ n ^ anc ^ mur( lered Amalasuentha in her bath 1 . The 
Byzantine ambassador sought the presence of the King, 
boldly denounced his wicked deed, and declared on the 
part of his master a war which would be waged without 
truce or treaty till Amalasuentha was avenged. Thus 
began the eighteen years' war between Justinian and 
the Ostrogoths. 

Why did It might certainly have been expected that a states- 

<jorus~ man w ^ na( ^ b een honoured with the intimate friend- 

continue sn ip o f Theodoric and his "daughter, even if unable to 

service of avenge her death, would have refused to serve in the 

Theoda- Cabinet of her murderer^ It is i accordingly with a feel- 

ing of painful surprise that ^e find Cassiodorus still 

holding the Secretary's pen, and writing letter after 

letter (they form the majority of the documents in the 

1 We do not seem to have the precise date of the death of Amalasuentha, 
but apparently it happened about the month of May, 535. 

Cassiodorus in the Service of Theodahad. 47 

Tenth Book of the ' Variae ') in the name of 
and his wife Gudelina. Dangers no doubt were thick- 
ening round his beloved Italy. He may have thought 
that whoever wore the Gothic crown, Duty forbade him 
to quit the Secretum at Ravenna just when war with 
the Empire was becoming every day more imminent. 
On the other hand, the Praetorian Praefecture, the 
object of a life's ambition, was now his, but had been 
his only for two years. It was hard to lay aside the 
purple mandye while the first gloss was yet upon it; 
hard to have to fall back into the ranks of the ordinary 
senators, and no longer to receive the reverent saluta- 
tions of the chiefs of the army when he entered the hall 
of meeting. Whether the public good or the private 
advantage swayed him most who shall say ? There are 
times when patriotism calls for the costliest sacrifice 
which a statesman can make the sacrifice, apparently, 
of his own honour. The man who has made such 
a sacrifice must be content to be misjudged by his 
fellow-men. Certainly, to us the one stain upon an 
otherwise pure reputation seems to be found in the 
service, the apparently willing service, which in the 
Tenth Book of his letters Cassiodorus renders to Theo- 

Throughout the latter half of 535, Belisarius in Sicily Vaciila- 
and Mundus in Dalmatia were warring for Justinian ^heoda- 
against Theodahad. The rhetorician Peter, who had had. 
boldly rebuked the Gothic King for the murder of his 
benefactress, and had on his master's behalf denounced 
a truceless war against him, still lingered at his Court. 
Theodahad, who during part of the summer and autumn 
of 535 seems to have been at Rome, not at Ravenna, was 
more than half inclined to resume his old negotiations 
with the Emperor, and either to purchase peace by 
sinking into the condition .of a tributary, or to sell his 
kingdom outright for a revenue of ^48,000 a year and 
a high place among the nobles of the Empire. Pro- 

48 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

copius 1 gives us a vivid and detailed narrative of the 
manner in which these negotiations were conducted by 
Theodahad, who was perpetually wavering between ar- 
rogance and timidity ; trembling at the successes of 
Belisarius, elated by any victory which his generals 
might win in Dalmatia; and who at length, upon re- 
ceiving the tidings of the defeat and death of Mundus, 
broke off the negotiations altogether, and shut up Peter 
and his colleague Athanasius in prison. 

Here again, while not doubting the truth of the 
<Variae' narrative of Procopius, I do not find it possible exactly 
as to to fit in the letters written by Cassiodorus for Theoda- 
the nego- had with the various stages of the negotiation as de- 

scri]bed b 7 **m. Especially the striking letter of the 
Theoda- King to the Emperor striking by reason of its very 
Justi- n abjectness which is quoted by Procopius in the sixth 
nian. chapter of his First Book, appears to be entirely un- 
represented in the collection of Cassiodorus. Evidently 
all this part of the ' Variae ' has been severely edited by 
its author, who has expunged all that seemed to reflect 
too great discredit on the Sovereign whom he had once 
served, and has preserved only some letters written to 
Justinian and Theodora by Theodahad and his wife, 
vaguely praising peace, and beseeching the Imperial 
pair to restore it to Italy; letters which, as it seems 
to me, may be applied with about equal fitness to any 
movement of the busy shuttle of diplomacy backwards 
and forwards between Kavenna and Constantinople. 
Theoda- The onward march of Belisarius trampled all the com- 
binations of diplomatists into the dust. In the early 

part of July, 536, he had succeeded in capturing the 
Aug. 536. important city of Neapolis, and had begun to threaten 
Kome. The Gothic warriors, disgusted at the incapacity 
of their King, and probably suspecting his disloyalty to 
the nation, met (August, 536) under arms upon the plain 

De Bello Gotthico, i. 6. 

Elevation of Witigis. 49 

of Regeta 1 , deposed Theodahad, and elected a veteran 
named Witigis as his successor. Witigis at once or- 
dered Theodahad to be put to death, and being himself 
of somewhat obscure lineage, endeavoured to strengthen 
his title to the crown by marrying Matasuentha, the 
sister of Athalaric and the only surviving descendant 
of Theodoric. 

Whether Cassiodorus had any hand in this revolution Letter on 
which was pre-eminently a Gothic movement we ^^yjjffll 
cannot tell ; but certainly one of the best specimens of Witigis. 
his letters is that written in the name of the new King 2 , 
in which he makes Witigis thus speak, 'Universis 
Gothis' not as Theodoric had so often ' spoken, 'Uni- 
versis Gothis et Romanis : ' 

' Unde Auctori nostro Christo gratias humillima satis- 
factione referentes, indicamus parentes nostros Gothos 
inter procinctuales gladios, more majorum, scuto sup- 
posito, regalem nobis contulisse, praestante Deo, digni- 
tatem, ut honorem arma darent, cujus opinionem bella 
pepererant. Non enim in cubilis angustis, sed in cam- 
pis late patentibus electum me esse noveritis : nee inter 
blandientium delicata colloquia, sed tubis concrepantibus 
sum quaesitus, ut tali fremitu concitatus desiderio vir- 
tutis ingenitae regem sibi Martium Geticus populus 

We have only five letters written by Cassiodorus for Letters 
Witigis (who reigned from August, 536, to May 3 , 540). ^"^ 
One has been already described. All the other fourofWiti- 
are concerned with negotiations for peace with Jus- gl 
tinian, and may probably be referred to the early part 

of the new reign. dorus in 

It will be seen that the letters written by Cassiodorus m i n i s tra- 

for the Sovereign during the five years following the ? 

death of Athalaric are few and somewhat unsatisfactory, war. 

1 The situation of this plain is unknown. 

2 Var. x. 31. 

3 We get this date only from Agnellus (loc. cit. p. 522). 


50 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

But, on the other hand, it was just during these years 
that he wrote in his own name as Praetorian Praefect the 
letters which are comprised in the Eleventh and Twelfth 
Books of his collection, and which are in some respects 
the most interesting of the whole series. There is a 
strong probability that he was not present at the long 
siege of Home (March, 537, to March, 538), nor is it 
likely that he, an elderly civilian, would take much 
part in any of -the warlike operations that followed. 
Upon the whole, it seems probable that during the 
greater part of this time Cassiodorus was, to the best 
of his power, keeping the civil administration together 
by virtue of his own authority as Praetorian Praefect, 
without that constant reference to the wishes of the 
Sovereign which would have been necessary under Theo- 
doric and his daughter. Perhaps, in the transitional 
state of things which then prevailed in Italy, with the 
power of the Gothic sceptre broken but the sway of the 
Roman Caesar not yet firmly established in its stead, 
men of all parties and both nationalities were willing 
that as much as possible of the routine of government 
should be carried on by a statesman who was Eoman 
by birth and culture, but who had been the trusted 
counsellor of Gothic Kings. 

Dates of I have endeavoured as far as possible to fix the dates 
ters. f these later letters. It will be seen that we have one 1 
probably belonging to the year 536, five 2 to 537, and 
one 3 (possibly) to 538. These later letters refer chiefly 
to the terrible famine which followed in the train of the 
war, and of which Cassiodorus strenuously laboured to 
mitigate the severity. 

End of It is possible that the Praefect may have continued to 

dorus?" hold office down to the capture of Ravenna in May, 540, 

official which made Witigis a prisoner, and seemed to bring the 

Ostrogothic monarchy to an end. Upon the whole, 

1 Var. xii. 20. 2 Var. xii. 22, 23, 24, 27, 28. 

3 Var. xii. 25. 

Editing of the ' Variae? 51 

however, it is rather more probable that in the year 538 
or 539 he finally retired from public life. The dates of 
his letters will show that there is nothing in them 
which forbids us to accept this conclusion ; and the fact, 
if it be a fact, that in 540, when Belisarius, with his 
Secretary Procopius in his train, made his triumphal 
entry into Kavenna, the late Praefect was no longer 
there, but in his native Province of Bruttii, a little les- 
sens the difficulty of that which still remains most diffi- 
cult of comprehension, the entire omission from Pro- 
copius' History of the Gothic War of all mention of the 
name of Cassiodorus. 

The closing years of the veteran statesman's tenure of The 
office were years of some literary activity. It was in 
them that he was collecting, and to some extent pro- 
bably revising, the letters which appear in the following 
collection. His motives for publishing this monument 
of his official life are sufficiently set forth in the two 
prefaces, one prefixed to the First Book and the other 
to the Eleventh. Much emphasis is laid on the en- 
treaties of his friends, the regular excuse, in the sixth 
century as in the nineteenth, for an author or a poli- 
tician doing the very thing which most pleases his own 
vanity. A worthier reason probably existed in the 
author's natural desire to vindicate his own consistency, 
by showing that the influence which for more than 
thirty years he had wielded in the councils of the Gothic 
Sovereigns had been uniformly exerted on the side of 
law and order and just government, directed equally 
to the repression of Teutonic barbarism and the punish- 
ment of Roman venality. 

The question how far the letters which now appear in What 
the ' Variae ' really reproduce the actual documents ori- 1^*' 
ginally issued by Cassiodorus is one which has been a were 
good deal discussed by scholars, but with no very de- i n the 
finite result. It is, after all, a matter of conjecture ; letters 
and every student who peruses the following letters is 

52 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

entitled to form his own conjecture especially as to 
those marvellous digressions on matters of Natural His- 
tory, Moral Philosophy, and the like whether they were 
veritably included in the original letters that issued from 
the Royal Secretum, and were carried over Italy by 
the Cursus Publicus. My own conjecture is, that though 
they may have been a little amplified and elaborated, 
substantially they were to be found in those original 
documents. The age was pedantic and half-educated, 
M and had lost bothTts poetic_inspiration^ and its faculty 
' M of_humour ; and I fear that these marvellous letters were 
read by the officials to whom they were addressed with 
a kind of stolid admiration, provoking neither the smile 
of amusement nor the shrug of impatience which are 
their rightful meed. 

' Ilium The reader will observe that in many, in fact most of 
Ilium.' the letters, which were meant to serve as credentials to 
ambassadors or commissions to civil servants, no names 
are inserted, but we have instead only the tantalising 
formula, 'Ilium atque Ilium,' which I have generally 
translated, ' A and B.' This circumstance has also been 
much commented upon, but without our arriving at any 
very definite result. All that can be said is, that Cassio- 
dorus must have formed his collection of State-papers 
either from rough drafts in his own possession, or from 
copies preserved in the public archives, and that, from 
whichsoever source he drew, the names in that source 
had not been preserved : a striking comment on the 
rhetorical unbusinesslike character of the Royal and Im- 
perial Chanceries of that day, in which words were 
deemed of more importance than things, and the flowers 
of speech which were showered upon the performer of 
some piece of public business were preserved, while the 
name of the performer was forgotten. 

Treatise As soon as he had finished the collection of the ' Variae,' 

vDe Am- ^e Praefect again in obedience to the entreaties of his 

friends composed a short philosophic treatise on the 

Treatise ' De Animd.' 53 

Nature of the Soul ( { De Anima '). As he said, it seems 
an absurd thing to treat as a stranger and an unknown 
quantity the very centre of our being ; to seek to under- 
stand the height of the air, the extent of the earth, the 
causes of storms and earthquakes, and the nature of the 
wandering winds, and yet to leave the faculty, by which 
we grasp all this knowledge, itself uncomprehended 1 . He 
therefore sets himself to enquire, in twelve chapters : 

1. Why the Soul is called Anima? 

2. What is the definition of the Soul ? 

3. What is its substantial quality ? 

4. If it is to be believed to have any shape ? 

5. What moral virtues it has which contribute to its 

glory and its adornment ? 

6. What are its natural virtues [or powers], given to 

enable it to hold together the framework of the 

7. Concerning the origin of the Soul. 

8. What is its especial seat, since it appears to be in a 

certain sense diffused over the whole body ? 

9. Concerning the form and composition of the body 


10. Sufficient signs by which we may discern what pro- 

perties the souls of sinners possess. 

11. Similar signs by which we may distinguish the souls 

of righteous men, since we cannot see them with 
our bodily eyes. 

12. Concerning the Soul's state after death, and how it 

will be affected by the general resurrection. 

1 'Cum jam suscepti operis optato fine gauderem, meque duodecim 
voluminibus jactatum quietis portus exciperet, ubi etsi non laudatus, certe 
liberatus adveneram, amicorum me suave collegium in salum rursus 
cogitationis expressit, postulans ut aliqua quae tarn in libris sacris, quam 
in saecularibus abstrusa compereram de animae substantia, vel de ejus 
virtutibus aperirem, cui datum est tarn ingentium rerum secreta reserare : 
addens nimis ineptum esse si earn per quam plura cognoscimus, quasi a 
nobis alienam ignorare patiamur, dum ad anima sit utile nosse qua^sapimua* 
(De Anima, Praefatio). 

54 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

The treatise ends with a prayer to Christ to preserve 
the body in good health, that it may be in tune with the 
harmony of the soul ; to give reason the ascendancy over 
the flesh ; and to keep the mind in . happy equipoise, 
neither so strong as to be puffed up with pride, nor so 
languid as to fail of its proper powers. 

Cassio- The line of thought indicated by the 'De Anima' led, 
retires i n suc ^ a country as Italy, at such a time as the Gothic 
to the War, to one inevitable end the cloister. It can have 
surprised none of the friends of Cassiodorus when the 
veteran statesman announced his intention of spending 
the remainder of his days in monastic retirement. He 
was now sixty years of age x ; his wife, if he had ever 
married, was probably by this time dead ; and we hear 
nothing of any children for whose sake he need have 
remained longer in the world. The Emperor would 
probably have received him gladly into his service, but 
Cassiodorus had now done with politics. The dream of 
his life had been to build up an independent Italian 
State, strong with the strength of the Goths, and wise 
with the wisdom of the Romans. That dream was now 
scattered to the winds. Providence had made it plain 
that not by this bridge was civilisation to pass over 
from the Old World to the New. Cassiodorus accepted 
the decision, and consecrated his old age to religious 
meditation and to a work even more important than 
any of his political labours (though one which must be 
lightly touched on here), the preservation by the pens 
of monastic copyists of the Christian Scriptures, and of 
the great works of classical antiquity. 

He It was to his ancestral Scyllacium that Cassiodorus 

two mo- retired ; and here, between the mountains of Aspromonte 
n f? ei jf 8 an( i the sea 3 ne founded his monastery, or, more accu- 
cium. rately, his two monasteries, one for the austere hermit, 
and the other for the less aspiring coenobite. The 

1 Fifty-eight, if the retirement was in 538. 

The Vivarian Monastery. 55 

former was situated among the * sweet recesses of Mons 
Castellius V the latter among the well- watered gardens 
which took their name from the Vivaria (fish-ponds) that 
Cassiodorus had constructed among them in connection 
with the river Pellena 2 . Baths, too, especially intended 
for the use of the sick, had been prepared on the banks 
of the stream 3 . Here in monastic simplicity, but not 
without comfort, Cassiodorus ordained that his monks 
should dwell. The Rule of the order in so far as it had 
a written Rule was drawn from the writings of Cas- 
sian, the great founder of Western Monachism, who 
had died about a century before the Vivarian monastery 
was founded. In commending the writings of Cassian 
to the study of his monks, Cassiodorus warns them 
against the bias shown in them towards the Semi- 
Pelagian heresy, and desires them to choose the good 
in those treatises and to refuse the evil. Whatever the 
reason may have been, it seems clear that Cassiodorus 
did not make the Rule of Benedict the law of his new 
monastery; and indeed, strange as the omission may 
appear, there is, I believe, no allusion to that great con- 
temporary Saint, the * Father of Monks,' in the whole of 
his writings. 

1 ' Nam si vos in monasterio Vivariensi divinS, gratia suffragante 
coenobiorum consuetude competenter erudiat, et aliquid sublimius de- 
faecatis animis optare contingat, habetis mentis Castelli secreta suavia, 
ubi velut anachoritae (praestante Domino) feliciter esse possitis ' (De Inst. 
Div. Litt. xxix.). 

2 ' Invitat vos locus Vivariensis monasterii . . . quando habetis hortos 
irriguos, et piscosi amnis Pellenae fluenta vicina, qui nee magnitudine 
undarum suspectus habetur, nee exiguitate temnibilis. Influit Vobis arte 
moderatus, ubicunque necessarius judicatur et hortis vestris sufficiens et 
molendinis. . . . Maria quoque vobis ita subjacent, ut piscationibus 
variis pateant ; et captus piscis, cum libuerit, vivariis possit includi. 
Fecimus enim illic (juvante Deo) grata receptacula ubi sub claustro fideli 
vagetur piscium multitude ; ita consentanea montium speluncis, ut nulla- 
tenus se sentiat captum, cui libertas est escas sumere, et per solitas se 
cavernas abscondere.' 

3 'Balnea quoque congruenter aegris praeparata corporibus jussimus 
aedificari, ubi fontium perspicuitas decenter illabitur, quae et potui gra- 
tissima cognoscitur et lavacris.' 

56 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

Probably Though the founder and patron of these two monas- 
Abbot teries, it seems probable that Cassiodorus never formally 
assumed the office of Abbot in either of them 1 . He had 
probably still some duties to perform as a large land- 
holder in Bruttii ; but besides these he had also work 
to do for ' his monks ' (as he affectionately called them) 
work of a literary and educational kind which perhaps 
made it undesirable that he should be burdened with 
the petty daily routine of an Abbot's duties. Some 
years before, he had endeavoured to induce Pope Aga- 
petus 2 to found a School of Theology and Christian 
Literature at Home, in imitation of the schools of 
Alexandria and Nisibis 3 . The clash of arms consequent 
on the invasion of Italy by Belisarius had prevented 
the fulfilment of this scheme ; but the aged statesman 
now determined to devote the remainder of his days 
to the accomplishment of the same purpose in connec- 
tion with the Vivarian convent. 

In the earliest days of Monasticism men like the 
hermits of the Thebaid had thought of little else but 
mortifying the flesh by vigils and fastings, and with- 
drawing from all human voices to enjoy an ecstatic 
communion with their Maker. The life in common 
of monks like those of Nitria and Lerinum had 
chastened some of the extravagances of these lonely 
enthusiasts while still keeping their main ends in view. 

1 But the words of Trithemius (quoted by Migne, Patrologia Ixix. 498), 
< Hie post aliquot conversionis suae annos abbas electus est, et monasterio 
multo tempore utiliter praefuit,' may preserve a genuine and accurate 
tradition. Cassiodorus' mention of the two Abbots, Chalcedonius and 
Geruntius (De Inst. Div. Litt. cap. xxxii.) shows that at any rate in the 
infancy of his monasteries he was not Abbot of either of them. 

2 Agapetus was Pope in 535 and 536. 

3 ' Nisus sum ergo cum beatissimo Agapeto papa urbis Komae, ut sicut 
apud Alexandrian! multo tempore fuisse traditur institutum, nunc etiam 
in Nisibi civitate Syrorum ab Hebraeis sedulo fertur exponi, collatis 
expensis in urbe Romana professes doctores scholae potius acciperent 
Christianae, unde et anima susciperet aeternam salutem, et casto atque 
purissimo eloquio fidelium lingua comeretur' (De Inst. Praefatio). 

Literary Labours of the Monks. 57 

St. Jerome, in his cell at Bethlehem, had shown what 
great results might be obtained for the Church of 
all ages from the patient literary toil of one religious 
recluse. And finally St. Benedict, in that Rule of his 
which was to be the code of monastic Christendom 
for centuries, had sanctified Work as one of the most 
effectual preservatives of the bodily and spiritual health 
of the ascetic, bringing together Laborare and Orare 
in friendly union, and proclaiming anew for the monk 
as for the untonsured citizen the primal ordinance, 'In 
the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread.' 

The great merit of Cassiodorus, that which shows his The fa- 
deep insight into the needs of his age and entitles him \^^ r 
to the eternal gratitude of Europe, was his determination Monasti- 
to utilise the vast leisure of the convent for the preserva- C1 
tion of Divine and human learning and for its trans- 
mission to after ages. In the miserable circumstances of 
the times Theology was in danger of becoming brutified 
and ignorant ; the great treasures of Pagan literature 
were no longer being perpetuated by the slaves who 
had once acted as librarii to the Greek or Roman noble ; 
and with every movement of the Ostrogothic armies, 
or of the yet more savage hordes who served under the 
Imperial standard, with every sacked city and with 
every ravaged villa, some Codex, it may be such as 
we should now deem priceless and irreplaceable, was 
perishing. This being the state of Italy, Cassiodorus 
resolved to make of his monastery not merely a place 
for pious meditation, but a theological school and a 
manufactory for the multiplication of copies, not only 
of the Scriptures, not only of the Fathers and the 
commentators on Scripture, but also of the great writers 
of pagan antiquity. In the chapter x which he devotes to 
the description of the scriptorium, of his monastery he 
describes, with an enthusiasm which must have been con- 

1 The soth of the De Institutione Div. Litt. 

58 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

tagious, the noble work done there by the antiquarius : 
'He may fill his mind with the Scriptures while copy- 
ing the sayings of the Lord. With his fingers he 
gives life to men and arms them against the wiles 
of the devil. So many wounds does Satan receive 
as the antiquarius copies words of Christ. What he 
writes in his cell will be scattered far and wide over 
distant Provinces. Man multiplies the heavenly words, 
and by a striking figure if I may dare so to speak 
the three fingers of his hand express the utterances of 
the Holy Trinity. The fast-travelling reed writes down 
the holy words, and thus avenges the malice of the 
Wicked One, who caused a reed to be used to smite the 
head of the Saviour.' 

It is true that the passage here quoted refers only 
to the work of the copyist of the Christian Scriptures, 
but it could easily be shown from other passages 1 
that the literary activity of the monastery was not 
confined to these, but was also employed on secular 

Book- Cassiodorus then goes on to describe the care which he 

mg ' has taken for the binding of the sacred Codices in covers 
worthy of the beauty of their contents, following the 
example of the householder in the parable, who provided 
wedding garments for all who came to the supper of 
his son. One pattern volume had been prepared, con- 
taining samples of various sorts of binding, that the 
amanuensis might choose that which pleased him best. 
Mechani- He had moreover provided, to help the nightly toil of 
ancestor" ^ ne scriptorium, mechanical lamps of some wonderful 
the con- construction, which appears to have made them self- 
trimming, and to have ensured their having always 

1 For instance, in cap. xv., after cautioning his copyists against rash 
corrections of apparent faults in the sacred MSS., he says : ' Ubicunque 
paragrammata in disertis hominibus [i. e. in classical authors] reperta 
fuerint, intrepidus vitiosa recorrigat.' And the greater part of cap. xxviii. 
is an argument against 'respuere saecularium litterarum studia.' 

Relation of Cassiodorus to Benedict. 59 

a sufficient supply of oil 1 . Sun-dials also for bright 
days, and water-clocks for cloudy days and the night- 
season, regulated their labour, and admonished them 
when it was time to unclose the three fingers, to lay 
down the reed, and to assemble with their brethren in 
the chapel of the convent for psalmody and prayer. 

Upon the whole, though the idea of using the convent 
as a place of literary toil and theological training was 
not absolutely new, Cassiodorus seems certainly en- 
titled to the praise of having first realised it systema- 
tically and on an extensive scale. It was entirely in Eelation 
harmony with the spirit of the Rule of St. Benedict, if 

it was not formally ordained in that document. At a tine 
very early date in the history of their order, the 
Benedictines, influenced probably by the example of 
the monastery of Vivaria, commenced that long series 
of services to the cause of literature which they have 
never wholly intermitted. Thus, instead of accepting 
the obsolete formula for which some scholars in the 
last age contended, 'Cassiodorus was a Benedictine,' 
we should perhaps be rather justified in maintaining 
that Benedict, or at least his immediate followers, were 

In order to set an example of literary diligence to his Cassio- 
monks, and to be able to sympathise with the difficul- aTrans- 
ties of an amanuensis, Cassiodorus himself transcribed criber of 
the Psalter, the Prophets, and the Epistles 2 , no doubt 
from the translation of Jerome. This is not the place 

1 Paravimus etiam nocturnis vigiliis mechanicas lucernas, conservatrices 
illuminantium flammarum, ipsas sibi nutrientes incendium, quae humano 
ministerio cessante, prolixe custodiant uberrimi luminis abundantissimam 
claritatem ; ubi olei pinguedo non deficit, quamvis flammis ardentibus 
jugitor torreatur. 

2 ' In Psalterio et Prophetis et Epistolis apostolorum studium maximum - 
laboris impendi. . . . Quos ego cunctos novem codices auctoritatis divinae 
(ut senex potui) sub collatione priscorum codicum amicis ante me legen- 
tibus, sedula lectione transivi' (De Inst. Praefatio). We should have 
expected ' tres ' rather than ' novem,' as the Psalter, the Prophets, and the 
Epistles each formed one codex. 

60 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

for enlarging on the merits of Cassiodorus as a custodian 
and transmitter of the sacred text. They were no doubt 
considerable ; and the rules which he gives to his monks, 
to guide them in the work of transcription, show that he 
belonged to the Conservative school of critics, and was 
anxious to guard against hasty emendations of the text, 
however plausible. Practically, however, his MSS. of 
the Latin Scriptures, showing the Itala and the Vulgate 
in parallel columns, seem to have been answerable for 
some of that confusion between the two versions which 
to some extent spoiled the text of Jerome, without pre- 
serving to us in its purity the interesting translation of 
the earlier Church. 

Besides his labours as a transcriber, Cassiodorus, both 
as an original author and a compiler, used his pen for the 
instruction of his fellow-inmates at Vivarium. 

Commen- (i) He began and slowly completed a Commentary 
the y on the Psalms. This very diffuse performance (which 
Psalms, occupies more than five hundred closely printed pages 
in Migne's edition) displays, in the opinion of those who 
have carefully studied it 1 , a large amount of acquaint- 
ance with the writings of the Fathers, and was probably 
looked upon as a marvel of the human intellect by the 
Vivarian monks, for whose benefit it was composed, and 
to whom it revealed, in the Psalms which they were daily 
and nightly intoning, refutations of all the heresies that 
had ever racked the Church, and the rudiments of all the 
sciences that flourished in the world. It is impossible now 
for this or any future age to do aught but lament over so 
much wasted ingenuity, when we find the author maintain- 
ing that the whole of the one hundred and fifty Psalms 
were written by King David, and that Asaph, Heman, and 
Jeduthun have only a mystical meaning ; that the first 
seventy represent the Old Testament, and the last eighty 
the New, because we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ 

1 I take my account of this treatise chiefly from Franz (pp. 93-100). 

Theological Works. 61 

on the eighth day of the week, and so forth. A closer 
study of the book might perhaps discover in it some 
genuine additions to the sum of human knowledge ; but 
it is difficult to repress a murmur at the misdirected 
industry which has preserved to us the whole of this 
ponderous futility, while it has allowed the History of 
the Goths to perish. 

(2) The ' Complexiones in Epistolas Apostolorum' (first Commen- 
published by Maffei in 1721, from a MS. discovered by 1J on 
him at Verona) have at least the merit of being far Epistles. 
shorter than the Commentary on the Psalms. Perhaps 

the only points of interest in them, even for theological 
scholars, are that Cassiodorus evidently attributes the 
Epistle to the Hebrews without hesitation to the Apostle 
Paul, and that he notices the celebrated passage concern- 
ing the Three Heavenly Witnesses (i John v. 7) in a 
way which seems to imply that he found that passage 
in the text of the Vulgate, though on examination his 
language is seen to be consistent with the theory that 
these words are a gloss added by the commentator 

(3) In order to supply the want of any full Church Historia 
History in the Latin tongue, a want which was pro- 
bably felt not only by his own monks but throughout 

the Churches of the West, Cassiodorus induced his friend 
Epiphanius to translate from the Greek the ecclesiastical 
histories of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, and then 
himself fused these three narratives into one, the well- 
known ' Historia Tripartita,' which contains the story 
of the Church's fortunes from the accession of Constan- 
tine to the thirty-second year of the reign of Theodo- 
sius II (306-439). The fact that the numerous mistransla- 
tions of Epiphanius have passed uncorrected, probably 
indicates that Cassiodorus' own knowledge of Greek was 
but slight, and that he depended on his coadjutor entirely 


62 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

for this part of the work. The 'Historia Tripartita' 
has probably had a larger circulation than any other of 
its author's works ; but Cassiodorus himself thought so 
little of his share in it, that he does not include it in 
the list of his writings prefixed to the treatise 'De 
Orthographia.' And, in fact, the inartistic way in 
which the three narratives are soldered together, rather 
than recast into one symmetrical and harmonious whole, 
obliges us to admit that Cassiodorus' work at this book 
was little more than mechanical, and entitles him to 
scarcely any other praise than that of industry. 

Institu- (4) Of a different quality, though still partaking some- 
Divina- what of the nature of a compilation, was his chief 
rum et educational treatise, the ' Institutiones Divinarum et 


narum Humanarum Lectionum 1 .' About the year 543 5 some 
Lectio- three or four years after his retirement from public life, 
while he was slowly ploughing his way through the 
Commentary on the Psalms, twenty of which he had 
already interpreted, he seems to have laid it aside 
for a time in order to devote himself to this work, 
which aimed more at instruction than at religious 
edification. In the outset of this book he describes 
that unsuccessful attempt of his, to which allusion 
has already been made, for the establishment of a 
theological school in Rome, and continues that, 'as the 
rage of war and the turbulence of strife in the Italian 
realm 2 had prevented the fulfilment of this desire, he felt 
himself constrained by Divine charity to write for his 
monks' behoof these libri introductorii, in which, after 
the manner of a teacher, he would open to them the series 

1 Printed hitherto as two works, De Institutione Divinarum Littera- 
rum, and De Artibus ac Disciplinis Liberalium Litterarum. But, as 
Ebert has shown (i. 477), the Preface to the Orthographia makes it 
probable that these two really formed one book, with a title like that 
given above. 

2 'In Italico regno.' These words seem to favour the conjecture that 
Theodoric may have called himself King of Italy. 

The ' Institutiones? 63 

of the books of Holy Scripture, and would give them a 
compendious acquaintance with secular literature.' As 
the book is not written for the learned, he undertakes 
to abstain from ' affectata eloquentia,' and he does in the 
main keep his promise. The simple, straightforward 
style of the book, which occasionally rises into real and 
'unaffected eloquence' where the subject inspires him to 
make an appeal to the hearts of his readers, presents a 
striking and favourable contrast to the obscure and 
turgid phraseology in which the perverted taste of the 
times caused him generally to shroud his meaning 1 . 

In the first part of this treatise (commonly called the 
1 De Institutione Divinarum Litterarum ') Cassiodorus 
briefly describes the contents of the nine Codices 2 which 
made up the Scripture of the Old and New Testaments, 
and mentions the names of the chief commentators upon 

1 As a specimen of this better style of Cassiodorus, I may refer to his 
praises of the life of the literary monk, and his exhortation to him who 
is of duller brain to practise gardening : ' Quapropter toto nisu, toto labore, 
totis desideriis exquiramus ut ad tale tantumque munus, Domino largiente, 
pervenire mereamur. Hoc enim nobis est salutare, proficuuin, gloriosum, 
perpetuum, quod nulla mors, nulla mobilitas, nulla possit separare oblivio ; 
sed in ilia suavitate patriae, cum Domino faciet aeterna exsultatione 
gaudere. Quod si alicui fratrum, ut meminit Virgilius, 

" Frigidus obstiterit circum praecordia sanguis," 

ut nee humanis nee divinis litteris perfecte possit erudiri, aliqua tamen 
scientiae inediocritate suffultus, eligat certe quod sequitur, 

"Rura mihi et rigui placeant in vallibus amnes." 

Quia nee ipsum est a monachis alienum hortos colere, agros exercere, et 
pomorum fecunditate gratulari; legitur enim in Psalmo centesimo vige- 
simo septimo, " Labores manuum tuarum manducabis ; beatus es et bene 
tibi erit." ' 

2 i. Octateuchus (Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth). 

2. Kings (Samuel and Kings, Chronicles). 

3. Prophets (Four Major, including Daniel, and Twelve Minor). 

4. Psalms. 

5. Solomon (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus). 

6. Hagiographa (Tobias, Esther, Judith, Maccabees, Esdras). 

7. Gospels. 

8. Epistles of the Apostles (including that to the Hebrews). 

9. Acts of the Apostles and Apocalypse. 

64 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

each. After some important cautions as to the preser- 
vation of the purity of the sacred text and abstinence 
from plausible emendations, the author proceeds to 
enumerate the Christian historians Eusebius, Orosius, 
Marcellinus, Prosper, and others 1 ; and he then slightly 
sketches the characters of some of the principal Fathers 
Hilary, Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine. This 
part of the work contains an interesting allusion to 
' Dionysius Monachus, Scytha natione, sed moribus omnino 
Rornanus,' of whom Cassiodorus speaks as a colleague in 
his literary enterprises. This is the so-called Dionysius 
Exiguus, who fixed (erroneously, as it now appears) the 
era of the birth of Christ, and whose system of chrono- 
logy founded on this event has been accepted by all the 
nations of Christendom. At the conclusion of this the 
first part of the treatise we find some general remarks on 
the nature of the monastic life, and some pictures of 
Vivarium and its neighbourhood, to which we are 
indebted for some of the information contained in the 
preceding pages. The book ends with a prayer, and con- 
tains thirty-three chapters, the same number, remarks 
Cassiodorus (who is addicted to this kind of moralising 
on numbers) that was reached by the years of the life of 
Christ on earth. 

The second part of the treatise, commonly called 
'De Artibus ac Disciplinis Liberalium Litterarum/ con- 
tains so much as the author thought that every monk 
should be acquainted with concerning the four liberal 
arts Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Mathematics the last 

1 The remarks on Marcellinus Conies and Prosper are worth transcribing: 
' Hunc [Eusebium] subsecutus est suprascriptus Marcellinus Illyricianus, 
qui adhuc patricii Justiniani fertur egisse cancellos ; sed meliore conditione 
devotus, a tempore Theodosii principis usque ad finem imperii triumphalis 
Augusti Justiniani opus suum, Domino juvante, perduxit ; ut qui ante fuit 
in obsequio suscepto gratus, postea ipsius imperio copiose amantissimus ap- 
pareret.' [The allusion to ' finem imperii Justiniani ' was probably added 
in a later revision of the Institutiones.] ' Sanctus quoque Prosper Chro- 
nica ab Adam ad Genserici tempora et urbis Romae depraedationem usque 

De Orthographia. 65 

of which is divided into the four ' disciplines ' of Arith- 
metic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy. As illustrating 
the relative importance of these sciences (as we call 
them) as apprehended by Cassiodorus, it is curious to 
observe that while Geometry and Astronomy occupy 
only about one page, and Arithmetic and Music two 
pages each, Logic takes up eighteen pages, Grammar two, 
and Rhetoric six. 

(5) Some other works, chiefly of a grammatical kind 1 , De 
which have now perished, together with the exegetical 
treatises already named, occupied the leisure hours of 
the old age of Cassiodorus. At length, in the ninety- 
third year of his age, the veteran statesman, nobleman, 
and judge crowned his life of useful service by writing 
for his beloved monks his still extant treatise 'De 
Orthographia 2 .' He tells us that the monks suddenly 
exclaimed, * What doth it profit us to study either those 
works which the ancients have composed or those which 
your Wisdom has caused to be added to the list, if we 
are altogether ignorant how we ought to write these 
things, and on the other hand cannot understand and 
accurately represent in speech the words which we 
find written ? ' In other words, ' Give us a treatise on 
spelling.' The venerable teacher gladly complied with 
the request, and compiled from twelve grammarians 3 
various rules, the observance of which would prevent 
the student from committing the usual faults in spelling. 

1 They were a compilation from the ' Artes ' of Donatus, from a book on 
Etymologies (perhaps also by Donatus), and from a treatise by Sacerdos 
on Schemata ; and a short Table of Contents of the Books of Scripture, 
prepared in such a form as to be easily committed to memory. 

2 Ad amantissimos orthographos discutiendos anno aetatis meae nona- 
gesimo tertio (Domino adjuvante) perveni. 

3 They were Donatus, Cn. Cornutus, Velius Longus, Curtius Valerianus, 
Papirianus, Adamantius Martyrius, Eutiches, Gaesellius, Lucius Caecilius, 
and 'Priscianus grammaticus, qui nostro tempore Constantinopoli doctor 
fuit.' Two names seem to be omitted by Cassiodorus. 


66 The Life of Cassiodorus. 

It is no doubt true l that this work is a mere collection 
of excerpts from other authors, not arranged on any 
systematic principle. Still, even as such a collection, 
it does great credit to the industry of a nonagenarian ; 
and it seems to me that there is much in it which a 
person who was studying the transition of Latin into 
the Lingua Volgare might peruse with profit. To an 
epigraphist especially it must be interesting to see what 
were the mistakes which an imperfectly educated Italian 
in that age was most likely to commit. The confusion be- 
tween b and v was evidently a great source of error, and 
their nice discrimination, to which Cassiodorus devotes 
four chapters, a very crux of accurate scholarship. We see 
also from a passage in the * De Institutione Divinarum 
Litterarum 2 ' that the practice of assimilating the last 
letter of the prefix in compound words, like iZluini- 
natio, irrisio, improbus, though it had been introduced, 
was as yet hardly universal ; and similarly that the 
monks required to be instructed to write quicquam for 
euphony, instead of quicquam. 

Death of The treatise ' De Orthographia ' was the last product, 

dorusT as ^ as we know, of the industrious brain of Cassio- 

575 (?) dorus. Two years after its composition the aged 

statesman and scholar, in the ninety-sixth year of his 

age, entered into his well-earned rest 3 . The death of 

Cassiodorus occurred (as I believe) in the year 575, 

three years before the death of the Emperor Justin II, 

nephew and successor of Justinian. The period covered 

by his life had been one of vast changes. Born when 

the Kingdom of Odovacar was only four years old, he 

1 As stated by Ebert (p. 481). 

2 Cap. xv. 

3 In assigning the death of Cassiodorus to the ninety-sixth year of his 
age I rest upon the authority of Trittheim (as quoted in the earlier part 
of this chapter), who appears to me to have preserved the chronology 
which was generally accepted, before the question became entangled by 
the confusion between Cassiodorus and his father. 



had as a young man seen that Kingdom overthrown 
by the arms of Theodoric ; he had sat by the cradle 
of the Ostrogothic monarchy, and mourned over its 
grave ; had seen the eunuch Narses supreme vicegerent 
of the Emperor ; had heard the avalanche of the 
Lombard invasion thunder over Italy, and had outlived 
even the Lombard invader Alboin. Pope Leo, the tamer 
of Attila and the hero of Chalcedon, had not been dead 
twenty years when Cassiodorus was born. Pope Gregory 
the Great, the converter of England, was within fifteen 
years of his accession to the Pontificate when Cassio- 
dorus died. The first great schism between the Eastern 
and Western Churches was begun in his boyhood and 
ended before he had reached old age. He saw the 
irretrievable ruin of Rome, such as Augustus and 
Trajan had known her; the extinction of the Roman 
Senate; the practical abolition of the Consulate; the 
close of the schools of philosophy at Athens. 

Reverting to the line of thought with which this 
chapter opened, if one were asked to specify any single 
life which more than another was in contact both with 
the Ancient World and the Modern, none could be more 
suitably named than the life of Cassiodorus. 

F 2 



THE chief conclusions which Mr. Evans came to after his 
two days' study of the country about Squillace are these : 
Position I. The Scylacium or Scolacium of Eoman times, the city of 
ciumf a " Cassiodorus, is not to be looked for at the modern Squillace, 
but at the place called Eoccella in the Italian military map, 
which Lenormant and Evans know as La Roecelletta del Vescovo 
di Squillace. 

This place, which is about ten kilometres north-east of modern 
Squillace, is on a little hill immediately overhanging the sea, 
while Squillace is on a spur of the Apennines three or four 
miles distant from the sea. Mr. Evans' chief reasons for iden- 
tifying Koccella with Scylacium are (i) its position, 'hanging 
like a cluster of grapes on hills not so high as to make the 
ascent of them a weariness, but high enough to command a 
delightful prospect over land and sea.' This description by 
Cassiodorus exactly suits Koccella, but does not suit Squillace, 
which is at the top of a conical hill, and is reached only by a 
very toilsome ascent. ' With its gradual southern and eastern 
slope and its freedom from overlooking heights (different in this 
respect from Squillace)/ says Mr. Evans, ' Koccella was emphati- 
cally, as Cassiodorus describes it, " a city of the sun." ' 

(2) Its ruins. While no remains of a pre-mediaeval time 
have been discovered at Squillace, there is still standing at 
Koccella the shell of a splendid basilica, of which Mr. Evans 
has taken some plans and sketches, but which seems to have 
strangely escaped the notice of most preceding travellers. The 
total length of this building is 94 paces, the width of the nave 
30, the extreme width of the transept 54. It has three fine 
apses at the eastern end, and is built in the form of a Latin 
cross. On either side of the nave was an exterior arcade, which 
apparently consisted originally of eleven window arches, six of 
them not being for the transmission of light. 'Altogether/ 
says Mr. Evans, ' this church, even in its dilapidated state, is one 
of the finest monuments of the kind anywhere existing. We 




Oacfora, University Press 

Vivarian Monastery. 71 

should have to go to Rome, to Ravenna, or to Thessalonica, 
to find its parallel ; but I doubt whether, even at any of those 
places, there is to be seen a basilica with such fine exterior 
arcading. It is a great tribute to the strength of the original 
fabric that so much should have survived the repeated shocks 
of earthquake that have desolated Calabria, and scarcely left one 
stone upon another of her ancient cities.' 

After a careful examination of the architectural peculiarities 
of this basilica, Mr. Evans is disposed to fix its erection some- 
where about the time of the Emperor Justinian. 

In addition to this fine building there are at Roccella the 
ruins of two smaller late Roman churches, mausolea, and endless 
foundations of buildings which must have formed very extensive 

More important than all, the massive walls of a considerable 
city can still be traced for nearly a mile in two parallel Hues, 
with the transverse wall which unites them. Certainly all 
these indications seem to point to the existence at this spot 
of a great provincial city of the Empire, and to make Mr. Evans* 
conjecture more probable than that of M. Lenormant, who 
identified the ruins at Roccella with those of Castra Hannibalis, 
the seaport of Scylacium. It would seem probable, if Mr. Evans' 
theory be correct, that the city may have been removed to its 
present site in the early middle ages, in order to guard it against 
the incursions of the Saracens. 

II. As to the situation of the Vivarian Monastery Mr. Evans The Vi- 
comes to nearly the same conclusion as M. Lenormant. Both ]y[ onaa . 

I place it on the promontory of Squillace (eastward of Staletti), tery. 
and, as Mr. Evans observes, ' only such a position can be 
reconciled, on the one hand, with the presence of an abundant 
stream and rich Campagna, on the other with the neighbour- 
hood of caves and grottoes on the sea-shore.' But while 
M. Lenormant places it at a place called Coscia, almost imme- 
diately to the north of and under Staletti, Mr. Evans pleads 
for the site now occupied by the Church of S. Maria del Mare, 
on the cliff top, very near the sea, and about three kilometres 
south of Staletti. This church is itself of later date than 
Cassiodoms, and probably formed part of the work of restoration 
undertaken by Nicephorus Phocas in the Tenth Century ; but 

72 Topography of Squillace. 

there are signs of its having formerly joined on to a monastery, 
and some of the work about it looks as if materials taken from 
the Cassiodorian edifice had been used in the work of recon- 

The Tons III. The Fountain of Arethusa may possibly, according to 
Arethu- Mr Evangj k e identified with the Fontana della Panaghia, a 
small fountain by the sea-shore at the south end of a little 
bay under the promontory of S. Gregorio. The so-called 
Fontana di Cassiodoro, near Coscia, has received its name and 
its present appearance in modern times, and is much too far 
from the sea to be the Fountain of Arethusa. 



A FEW pages must be devoted to the MS. bearing the 
somewhat uncouth title of ' Anecdoton Holderi,' because 
it is the most recently opened source of information as 
to the life and works of Cassiodorus, and one which, if 
genuine, settles some questions which have been long and 
vigorously debated among scholars. 

My information on the subject is derived from a 
pamphlet of 79 pages by Hermann Usener, printed at 
Bonn in 1877, and bearing the title * Ajiecdoton Holderi: 
Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte Roms in Ostgothischer Zeit.' 
I am indebted to Mr. Bywater, of Exeter College, 
Oxford, for my introduction to this pamphlet, which, 
while strikingly confirming some conclusions which I had 
come to from my own independent study of the ' Variae,' 
has been of the greatest possible service to me in studying 
the lives of Cassiodorus and Boethius. 

The 'Anecdoton' (which loses its right to that name Descri 
by Usener's publication of it) was discovered by Alfred Jj^M 
Holder in a MS. known as Codex Augiensis, No. CVL, 
which came from the Monastery of Reichenau and is 
now in the Grand-Ducal Library at Carlsruhe. The 
monks of the fertile island of Reichenau (Augia Dives), 
in the Lake of Constance, were celebrated in the ninth 
and tenth centuries for their zeal in the collection and 
transcription of manuscripts. The well-known Codex 
Augiensis (an uncial MS. of the Greek text of the New 
Testament, with the Vulgate version in parallel columns) 

Ane C e - 

74 The Anecdoton Holderi. 

is referred by palaeographers to the ninth century 1 . The 
Codex Augiensis with which we are now concerned, and 
which is a copy of the ' Institutiones Humanarum Rerum ' 
of Cassiodorus, is believed to have been written in the 
next succeeding century. On the last page of this MS. 
Holder discovered the fragment not properly belonging 
to the 'Institutiones' to which he has given his name, 
and which is as follows 2 : 

Contents ' Excerpta ex libello Cassiodori Senatoris monachi 
servi Dei, ex-Patricio, ex-Consule Ordinario Quaes- 
^' ore e ^ Magistro Officiorum, quern scripsit ad Rufum 
Petronium Nicomachum ex-Consule Ordinario Pa- 
tricium et Magistrum Officiorum. Ordo generis 
Cassiodororum 3 : qui scriptores exstiterint ex 
eorum progenie vel ex civibus 4 eruditis. 

' Symmachus Patricius et Consul Ordinarius, vir 
philosophus, qui antiqui Catonis fuit novellus imi- 
tator, sed virtutes veterum sanctissima religione 
transcendit. Dixit sententiam pro allecticiis in 
Senatu, parentesque suos imitatus historiam quoque 
Komanam septem libris edidit. 

' Boetbius dignitatibus summis excelluit. Utraque 
lingua peritissimus orator fuit. Qui re gem Tbeo- 
doricbum in Senatu pro Consulatu filiorum lucu- 
lenta oratione laudavit. Scripsit librum de Sancta 
Trinitate et capita quaedam dogmatica et librum 
contra Nestor mm. Condidit et carmen bucolicum. 
Sed in opere artis logicae, id est dialecticae, trans- 

1 See Scrivener, Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New 
Testament, pp. 133-4. 

2 I have adopted the emendations most of them the corrections of 
obvious mistakes which are suggested by Usener. 

3 In the original, ' Casiodoru/ 
* In the original, * ex quibus.' 

History of the MS. 75 

ferendo ac mathematicis disciplinis tails fuit ut 
antiques auctores aut aequiperaret aut vinceret. 

* Cassiodorus Senator, vir eruditissimus et multis 
dignitatibus pollens. Juvenis adeo, dum patris 
Cassiodori Patricii et Praefecti Praetorii Consili- 
arius fieret et laudes Theodorichi regis G-othorum 
facundissime recitasset, ab eo Quaestor est factus. 
Patricius et Consul Ordinarius, postmodum dehinc 
Magister Officiorum [et praefuisset formulas dicti- 
onum, quas in duodecim libris ordinavit et Yariarum 
titulum superposuit] scripsit praecipiente Theo- 
doricho rege historian! Gothicam, originem eorum 
et loca moresque xn libris annuntians.' 

This memorandum, for it is hardly more, is a vestige, 
and the only vestige now remaining, of a short tract by 
Cassiodorus on the literary history of his family and kins- 
men. The 'Excerpta' have been made by some later 
hand perhaps that of a monk in the Vivarian convent. 
To him undoubtedly we owe the words ' monachi servi 
Dei ' as a description of Cassiodorus ; probably also the 
* ex-Patricio,' which is perhaps an incorrect designation. 
'Vir eruditissimus,' in the last paragraph, is probably 
due to the same hand, as, with all his willingness to do 
justice to his own good qualities, Cassiodorus would 
hardly have spoken thus of himself in a work avowedly 
proceeding from his own pen. The clause which is 
placed in brackets [et . . . superposuit] is probably also 
due to the copyist, anxious to supply what he deemed the 
imperfections of his memorandum. In short, it must be 
admitted that the fragment cannot consist of the very 
words of Cassiodorus in however abbreviated a form.' 
Still it contains so much that is valuable, and that could 
hardly have been invented by any writer of a post-Cas- 
siodorian age, that it is well worthy of the careful and, so 

76 The Anecdoton Holderi. 

to speak, microscopical examination to which it has been 
subjected by Usener. 

Date of The work from which these ' Excerpta ' are taken was 
" com P ose d> according to Usener, in the year 522. This is 
proved by the facts that the receiver of the letter is 
spoken of as Magister Officiorum, a post which he appa- 
rently held from Sept. 1,521, to Sept. 1,522; and that 
the Consulship of the two sons of Boethius, which began 
Persons on Jan. i, 522, is also referred to. The name of the 
address^ person to whom the letter is addressed is given as 
ed. Rufius Petronius Nicomachus. Usener, however, shows 
good reason for thinking that his final name, the name by 
which he was known in the consular lists, is omitted, and 
that his full designation was Rufius Petronius Nicomachus 
Cethegus, Consul in 504, Magister Oificiorum (as above 
stated) in 521-522, and Patrician. He was probably the 
same Cethegus whom Procopius mentions 1 as Princeps 
Senatus, and as withdrawing from Rome to Centumcellae 
in the year 545 because he was accused of treachery to 
the Imperial cause 2 . 

Its ob- The object of the little treatise referred to evidently 
was to give an account of those members of the family 
to which Cassiodorus belonged who had distinguished 
themselves in literature. The words 'Ex genere Cas- 
siodororum' are perhaps a gloss of the transcribers. 
At least it does not appear that they would correctly 
describe the descent of Symmachus and Boethius, 
though they were relations of Cassiodorus, being de- 

1 De Bello Gotthico iii. 13 (p. 328, ed. Bonn). 

2 If Usener be right (and he has worked up this point with great care), 
we can trace the following links in the pedigree of Cethegus (see pp. 6 
and 1 1 ) : 

Kufius Petronius Placidus, Consul 481. 

liufius Petronius Anicius Probinus, Consul 489. 

Kufius Petronius Nicomachus Cethegus, Consul 504, correspondent of 


Probinus and Cethegus are referred to by Ennodius in his letter to Am- 
brosius and Beatus, otherwise called his Paraenesis (p. 409, ed. Hartel). 

Symmachus. 77 

scended from or allied to the great house of the Aurelii 
from which he also sprang. Probably several other 
names may have been noticed in the original treatise, but 
the only three as to which the ' Anecdoton ' informs us 
are the three as to whom information is most accept- 
able Symmachus, Boethius, and Cassiodorus himself. 

I. The name of Q. Aurelius Memmius Symmachus was Infonna- 
already known to us as that of the friend, guardian, and 

father-in-law of Boethius, and his fellow-sufferer from Symma- 
the outburst of suspicious rage which disgraced the 
last years of Theodoric. That he was Consul in 485 
(under the dominion of Odovacar), and that he had at 
the time of his fall attained the honoured position of 
Father of the Senate l t we also know from the ' Consular 
Fasti ' and the * Anonymus Valesii.' This extract tells 
us that he had attained the rank of Patricius, which 
may perhaps have been bestowed upon him when he 
laid down the Consulship. He was 'a philosopher, 
and a modern imitator of the ancient Cato ; but surpassed 
the virtues of the men of old by [his devotion to] our 
most holy religion.' This sentence quite accords with 
all that we hear of the character of Symmachus from 
our other authorities the 'Anonymus Valesii,' Procopius, 
and Boethius. The blending of old Eoman gravity and 
Christian piety in such a man's disposition is happily 
indicated in the words before us. It would be an 
interesting commentary upon them if we were to con- 
trast the career of the Christian Symmachus, who suf- 
fered in some sense as a martyr for the Nicene Creed 
under Theodoric, with that of his ancestor the Pagan 
Symmachus, who, 143 years before, incurred the anger 
of Gratian by his protests against the removal of the 

1 Caput Senati. This, not Caput Senatus, is the form which we find 
in Anon. Valesii. Usener suggests (p. 32) that Symmachus probably 
became Caput Senati on the death of Festus, who had held that position 
from 501 to 506. 

78 The Anecdoton Holderi. 

Altar of Victory from the Senate House, and the cur- 
tailment of the grant to the Vestal Virgins. 

The Symmachus with whom we are now concerned 
was also an orator ; and we learn from this extract that 
he delivered a speech, evidently of some importance, 
in the Senate, 'pro allecticiis.' There seems much pro- 
bability in Usener's contention that these ' allecticii ' 
were men who had been * allecti,' or admitted by co- 
optation into the Senate during the reign of Odovacar, 
and whom, on the downfall of that ruler, it had been 
proposed to strip of their recently acquired dignity 
a proposal which seems to have been successfully re- 
sisted by Symmachus and his friends. 

Lastly, we learn that Symmachus, ' in imitation of his 
ancestors,' put forth a Koman History in seven books. 
The expression for ancestors (parentes) here used is 
thought by Usener to refer chiefly to Virius Nicomachus 
Flavianus (Consul in 3 94 1 ), whose granddaughter married 
Q. Fabius Memmius Symmachus, and was the grand- 
mother of our Symmachus. This Flavianus, who was 
in his time one of the chief leaders of the heathen party 
in the Senate, is spoken of in one inscription as ' histori- 
cus disertissimus ; ' and in another, mention is made of 
the fact that he dedicated his annals to Theodosius. 

Whether the elder Symmachus, the Pagan champion, 
was a historian as well as an orator is a matter about 
which there is a good deal of doubt. Jordanes twice 
quotes ' The History of Symmachus,' once as to the 
elevation of the Emperor Maximin, and once as to his 
death 2 . Usener thinks that the 'Anecdoton Holderi' 
authorises us henceforward to assign these quotations 
without doubt to the younger. Christian Symmachus, 

1 See Usener, p. 29. The Consules Ordinarii for that year were 
Arcadius and Honorius. 

2 Jordanis, Getica xv. : ' Nam, ut dicit Symmachus in quinto suae his- 
toriae libro, Maximinus . . . ab exercitus efiectus est imperator.' ' Occisus 
Aquileia a Puppione regnum reliquit Philippe; quod nos huic nostro 
opusculo de Symmachi hystoria [sic] mutuavimus.' 

Boethius. 79 

not to his Pagan ancestor. To me the allusion to 
parentes (in the plural), whose industry as historians 
the Symmachus there spoken of imitated, seems to 
make it at least as probable that the earlier, not the 
later member of the family composed the history which 
is here quoted by Jordanes. 

II. We now pass on to consider the information Informa- 
furnished by this fragment as to the illustrious son-in- toTifeV 
law of Symmachus, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius. Boethius. 
Of the facts of his life we had already pretty full in- 
formation, from the autobiographical sections of the 
1 Consolation of Philosophy ' and other sources. He 
does not indeed mention the exact year of his birth, 
but the allusion to 'untimely gray hairs' which he 
makes in that work, written in 523 or 524, toge- 
ther with other indications 1 as to his age, entitle us 
to fix it at about 480, certainly not earlier than that 
year. The death of his father (who was Consul in 487) 
occurred while he was still a child. Symmachus, as has 
been already said, was the guardian of his youth and 
the friend of his manhood, and gave him his daughter 
Rusticiana to wife. That he received the honour of 
the Consulship in 510 we know from the 'Fasti Con- 
sulares ; ' but it is perplexing to find him even before 
that year spoken of 2 as Patricius, since this honour was 
generally bestowed only on those who had already sat 
in the curule chair of the Consul 3 . The high considera- 
tion in which he was held at the Court of Theodoric, 
and the value placed upon his scientific attainments, are 
sufficiently proved by the letters in the following collec- 

1 Chiefly derived from the Paraenesis of Ennodius (Opusc. vi.)- 

2 In the Paraenesis. 

8 Usener's suggestion (pp. 38, 39) that he obtained this honour in 
consequence of having filled the place of Comes Sacrarum Largitionum 
seems to me only to land us in the further difficulty caused by the entire 
omission of all allusion to this fact both in the Paraenesis and in the 
Anecdoton Holderi. 

80 The Anecdoton Holderi. 

tion, especially by those in which he is consulted about 
the frauds committed by the officers of the Mint, about 
the water-clock which is to be sent to Gundobad King 
of the Burgundians, and the harper who is to be provided 
for the King of the Franks l . In the year 522 his two 
sons, Symmachus and Boethius, though they had but 
just attained to man's estate, received the honour of the 
Consulship, upon which occasion the proud and happy 
father pronounced a panegyric upon Theodoric before 
the assembled Senate. Some of these facts in the life 
of Boethius are referred to in the extract before us, 
which, as was before said, appears to be taken from a 
treatise composed in this same year 522, the year of 
the Consulship of the young Boethii. Of their father's 
investiture with the office of Magister Officiorum on 
September i, 522, of his sudden fall from the royal 
favour, of the charge of treason which was preferred 
against him before the end of that year, of his imprison- 
ment during 523 and execution (probably in the early 
part of 534)) we have of course no trace in this extract ; 
and the fact that we have none is a strong argument 
for the genuineness and contemporary character of the 
treatise from which it is taken. 

His theo- So far, then, we have in the ' Anecdoton Holderi ' only 
treatises a some what meagre reiteration of facts already known 
to us. But when we come to the statement of the 
literary labours of Boethius the case is entirely altered. 
It is well known that in the Middle Ages certain treatises 
on disputed points of Christian theology were attributed 
to him as their author. They are : 

1. A treatise 'De Sancta Trinitate.' 

2. 'Ad Johannem Diaconum: Utrum Pater et Filius 

et Spiritus Sanctus de Divinitate substantialiter 

3. ' Ad eundem : Quomodo substantiae in eo quod sint 

bonae sint cum non sint substantialia bona.' 

1 See Var. i. 10 and 45 ; ii. 40. 

Theological Treatises of Boethius. 81 

4. ' De Fide Catholica.' 

5. ' Contra Eutychen et Nestorium.' 

It may be said at once that in the earlier MSS. 
the fourth treatise is not attributed to Boethius. It 
seems to have been included with the others by some 
mistake, and I shall therefore in the following remarks 
assume that it is not his, and shall confine my attention 
to the first three and the fifth. 

Even as to these, notwithstanding the nearly una- Diffi- 
nimous voice of the early Middle Ages (as represented to^e- 
by MSS. of the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Centuries) Kg 

assigning them to Boethius as their author, scholars, of Boe" 
especially recent scholars, have felt the gravest possible thius - 
doubts of their being really his, doubts which have of 
late ripened into an almost complete certainty that he 
was not their author. The difficulty does not arise 
from anything in the diction or in the theology which 
points to a later age as the time of their composition, 
but from the startling contrast which they present to 
the religious atmosphere of the ' Consolation of Phi- 
losophy.' Here, in these theological treatises, we have 
the author entering cheerfully into the most abstruse 
points of the controversy concerning the Nature of 
Christ, without apparently one wavering thought as to 
the Deity of the Son of Mary. There, in the ' Consola- 
tion,' a book written in prison and in disgrace, with 
death at the executioner's hands impending over him 
a book in which above all others we should have ex- 
pected a man possessing the Christian faith to dwell 
upon the promises of Christianity the name of Christ 
is never once mentioned, the tone, though religious and 
reverential, is that of a Theist only ; and from beginning 
to end, except one or two sentences in which an obscure 
allusion may possibly be detected to the Christian 
revelation, there is nothing which might not have been 
written by a Greek philosopher ignorant of the very 
name of Christianity. Of the various attempts which 


82 The Anecdoton Holderi. 

have been made to solve this riddle perhaps the most 
ingenious is that of M. Charles Jourdain, who, in a 
monograph devoted to the subject 1 , seeks to prove that 
the author of the theological treatises referred to was a 
certain Boethus, an African Bishop of the Byzacene 
Province, who was banished to Sardinia about the year 
504 by the Vandal King Thrasamond. 

Not thus, however, as it now appears, is the knot to be 
cut. And after all, M. Jourdain, in arguing, as he seems 
disposed to argue, against any external profession of 
Christianity on the part of Boethius, introduces contra- 
dictions greater than any that his theory would remove. 
To any person acquainted with the thoughts and words 
of the little coterie of Roman nobles to which Boethius 
belonged, it will seem absolutely impossible that the 
son-in-law of Symmachus, the receiver of the praises 
of Ennodius and Cassiodorus, should have been a pro- 
fessed votary of the old Paganism. It is not the 
theological treatises coming from a man in his position 
which are hard to account for ; it is the apparently non- 
Christian tone of the ' Consolation.' 

The fragment now before us shows that the old- 
fashioned belief in Boethius as a theologian was well 
founded. 'He wrote a book concerning the Holy 
Trinity, and certain dogmatic chapters, and a book 
against Nestorius.' That is a sufficiently accurate 
resume of the four theological treatises enumerated 
above. Here Usener also observes and I am inclined 
to agree with him--that there is a certain resemblance 
between the style of thought of these treatises and that 
of the ' Consolation ' itself. They are, after all, philoso- 
phical rather than religious ; one of the earliest samples 
of that kind of logical discussion of theological dogmas 
which the Schoolmen of the Middle Ages so delighted to 
indulge in. The young philosopher, hearing at his 
father-in-law's table the discussions between Chalce- 

1 De I'Origine des Traditions sur le Christianisme de Bofcce (Paris, 1861.) 

' Philosophiae Consolatio.' 83 

donian and Monophysite with which all Home re- 
sounded, on account of the prolonged strife with the 
Church of Constantinople, set himself down to discuss 
the same topics which they were wrangling over by the 
light to him so clear and precious of the Greek 
philosophy. There was perhaps in this employment 
neither reverence nor irreverence. He had not St. 
Augustine's intense and almost passionate conviction 
of the truth of Christianity ; but he was quite willing to 
accept it and to discourse upon it, as he discoursed on 
Arithmetic, Music, and Geometry. 

But when premature old age, solitude, and the loss of 
liberty befell him, it was not to the highly elaborated 
Christian theology of the Sixth Century that he turned 
for support and consolation. Probably enough the very 
fact that he knew some of the pitfalls in the way deterred 
him from that dangerous journey, where the slightest 
deviation on either side landed him in some detested 
heresy, the heresy of Nestorius or of Eutyches. 'On 
revient toujours a ses premiers amours;' and even so 
Boethius, though undoubtedly professing himself a Chris- 
tian, and about to die in full communion with the 
Catholic Church, turned for comfort in his dungeon to 
the philosophical studies of his youth, especially to the 
ethical writings of Plato and Aristotle. 

After all, the title of the treatise is ' Philosophiae 
Consolatio ; ' and however vigorous a literature of phi- 
losophy may in the course of centuries have grown up 
in the Christian domain, in the sixth century the 
remembrance of the old opposition between Christianity 
and Philosophy was perhaps still too strong for a writer 
to do anything more than stand neutral as to the dis- 
tinctive claims of Christianity, when he had for the time 
donned the cloak of the philosopher. 

We learn from the fragment before us that Boethius The 
also wrote a 'Bucolic Poem.' This is an interesting Poem'of 
fact, and helps to explain the facility with which he Boethius. 

G 3 

84 The Anecdoton Holderi. 

breaks into song in the midst of the c Consolation.' 
It may have been to this effort of the imagination that 
he alluded when he said at the beginning of that work 

' Carmina qui quondam studio florente peregi 
Flebilis, heu, moestos cogor inire modos.' 

We would gladly know something more of this 'Bucolic 
Poem ' indited by the universal genius, Boethius. 

Cassio- III. As for Gassiodorus himself, the additional in- 
U8 ' formation furnished by this fragment has been already 
discussed in the foregoing chapter. That he was 
Consiliarius to his father during his Praefecture, and 
that in that capacity he recited an eloquent panegyric 
on Theodoric, which was rewarded by his promotion 
to the high office of the Quaestorship, are facts which we 
learn from this fragment only; and they are of high 
importance, not only for the life of Cassiodorus but for 
the history of Europe at the beginning of the Sixth 
Century, because they make it impossible to assign to 
any letter in the ' Variae ' an earlier date than 500. 



IT is well known that Diocletian introduced and Official 
Constantine perfected an elaborate system of adminis- ^^~ 
tration under which the titles, functions, order of pre- intr - 
cedence, and number of attendants of the various officers Diocle- 
of the Civil Service as well as of the Imperial army tian - 
were minutely and punctiliously regulated. This system, 
which, as forming the pattern upon which the nobility 
of mediaeval Europe was to a great extent modelled, 
perhaps deserves even more careful study than it has 
yet received, is admirably illustrated by the letters of 
Cassiodorus. The Notitia Utriusque Imperii, our copies 
of which must have been compiled in the early years of 
the Fifth Century, furnishes us with a picture of official 
life which, after we have made allowance for the fact that 
the Empire of the West has shrunk into the Ostrogothic 
Kingdom of Italy (with the addition of Dalmatia and 
some other portions of Illyricum), is almost precisely 
reproduced in the pages of the 'Various Letters.' In order 
that the student may understand the full significance 
of many passages in those letters, and especially of the 
superscriptions by which each letter is prefaced, it will 
be well to give a brief outline of the system which 
existed alike under Theodosius and Theodoric. 

In the first place, then, we come to what is rather Nobilis- 
a family than a class, the persons bearing the title ^ 
Nobilissimus 1 . These were the nearest relatives of 

1 The existence of this title is proved not only by the language of 

86 Gradations of Rank in the Empire. 

the reigning Emperor; his brothers, sisters, sons, and 
daughters. The title therefore is not unlike that of 
Royal or Imperial Highness in modern monarchies. I 
am not sure whether any trace can be found of the 
survival of this title in the Ostrogothic Court. Theo- 
dahad, nephew of Theodoric, is addressed simply as 
'Vir Senator 1 ,' and he is spoken of as 'praecelsus et 
amplissimus vir 2 .' It is not so, however, in respect of 
the three great official classes which follow the Illustres, 
Spectabiles, and Clarissimi whose titles were rendered 
as punctiliously in the Italy of Theodoric as ever they 
were in the Italy of Diocletian and Constantine. 
Illustres. I. The Illustres were a small and select circle of men, 
the chief depositaries of power after the Sovereign, and 
they may with some truth be compared to the Cabinet 
Ministers of our own political system. The 'Notitia' 
mentions thirteen of them as bearing rule in the Western 
Empire. They are : 

1. The Praetorian Praefect of Italy. 

2. The Praetorian Praefect of the Gauls. 

3. The Praefect of the City of Rome. 

4. The Master of the Foot Guards (Magister Pediturn 
in Praesenti). 

5. The Master of the Horse Guards (Magister Equitum 
in Praesenti). 

6. The Master of the Horse for the Gauls (per Gallias). 

7. The Grand Chamberlain (Praepositus Sacri Cubiculi). 

8. The Master of the Offices. 

9. The Quaestor. 

Arcadius in the Theodosian Code x. 25. 1, concerning ' Nobilissimae puellae, 
filiae meae,' but also by Zosimus (ii. 39), who says that Constantine 
bestowed the dignity of Nobilissimus on his brother Constantius and his 
nephew Hannibalianus (rrjs rov \eyoptvov vca&eXiaainov nap avrov Kcav- 
aravrivov Tvxovres aias al8o? rrjs ffvyyeveias) ; and by Marcellinus Comes, 
s. a. 527, who says : ' Justinus Imperator Justinianum ex sorore sua" 
nepotem, jamdudum a se Nobilissimum designatum, participem quoque 
regni sui, successoremque creavit.' It is evident that the title did not come 
by right of birth, but that some sort of declaration of it was necessary. 
1 Var. iii. 15. 2 Var. viii. 23. 

lllustres. 87 

i o. The Count of Sacred Largesses. 

11. The Count of the Private Domains (Comes Eerum 

12. The Count of the Household Cavalry (Comes 
Domesticorum Equitum). 

13. The Count of the Household Infantry (Comes 
Domesticorum Peditum). 

Substantially these same titles were borne by the 
lllustres to whom Cassiodorus (himself one of them) 
addressed his 'Various Letters.' The second and the 
sixth (the Praetorian Praefect of the Gauls, and the 
Master of the Horse for the Gauls) may possibly have 
disappeared ; and yet, in view of the fact that Theodoric 
was during the greater part of his reign ruler of a por- 
tion of Gaul, it is not necessary to assume even this 
change. Into the question of the military officers I will not 
enter, as I confess that I do not understand the relations 
(whether co-ordinate or subordinated one to another) of 
the two pairs of officers, Nos. 4 and 5 and Nos. 12 and 13. 

The rank and duties of the Praetorian Praefect of Italy, 
the Master of the Offices, and the Quaestor have already 
been described in the first chapter. It will be well to 
say a few words as to the four remaining civil dignitaries, 
the Praefect of the City, the Grand Chamberlain, the 
Count of Sacred Largesses, and the Count of the Pri- 
vate Domains. 

(a) The Praefectus Urbis Romae was by virtue of his Praefect 
office head of the Senate. He had the care of the 
Annona or corn-largesses to the people, the command 
of the City-watch, and the duty of keeping the aqueducts 
in proper repair. The shores and channel of the Tiber, 
the vast cloacae which carried off the refuse of the City, 
the quays and warehouses of Portus at the river's mouth 
were also under his authority. The officer who was 
charged with taking the census, the officers charged with 
levying the duties on wine, the masters of the markets, 
the superintendents of the granaries, the curators of 

88 Gradations of Rank in the Empire. 

the statues, baths, theatres, and the other public build- 
ings with which the City was adorned, all owned the 
supreme control of the Urban Praefect. At the begin- 
ning of the Fifth Century the Vicarius Urbis (whom it 
is difficult not to think of as in some sort subject to 
the Praefectus Urbis), had jurisdiction over all central 
and southern Italy and Sicily. But if this was the 
arrangement then, it must have been altered before the 
time of Cassiodorus, who certainly appears as Praetorian 
Praefect to have wielded authority over the greater part 
of Italy. He states, however x , that the Urban Praefect had, 
by an ancient law, jurisdiction, not only over Rome itself, 
but over all the district within 100 miles of the capital. 
Grand (b) The Praepositus Sacri Cubiculi had under his 
berlain or( ^ ers the large staff of Grooms of the Bedchamber, at 
whose head stood the Primicerius Cubiculariorum, an 
officer of ' respectable ' rank. The Castrensis, Butler or 
Seneschal, with his army of lacqueys and pages who 
attended to the spreading and serving of the royal table ; 
the Comes Sacrae Vestis, who with similar assistance 
took charge of the royal wardrobe; the Comes Do- 
morum, who perhaps superintended the needful repairs 
of the royal palace, all took their orders in the last 
resort from the Grand Chamberlain. So, too, did the 
three Decurions, officers with a splendid career of ad- 
vancement before them, who marshalled the thirty bril- 
liantly armed Silentiarii, that paced backwards and for- 
wards before the purple veil guarding the slumbers of 
the Sovereign. 

Count of (G) The Comes Sacrarum Largitionum, theoretically 

Lar- 6 on ty the Grand Almoner of the Sovereign, discharged 

gesses. in practice many of the duties of Chancellor of the 

Exchequer. The mines, the mint, the Imperial linen 

factories, the receipt of the tribute of the Provinces, 

and many other departments of the public revenue 

were originally under the care of this functionary, 

1 Var. vi. 4. 

Illustres. 89 

whose office however, as we are expressly told by 
Cassiodorus, had lost part of its lustre, probably by a 
transfer of some of these duties to the Count of the 
Private Domains. 

(d) This Minister, the Comes Rerum Privatarum, had Count of 
the superintendence of the Imperial estates in Italy Domains 
and the Provinces. Confiscations and the absorption by 
the State of the properties of defaulting tax-payers were 
probably always tending to increase the extent of these 
estates, and to make the office of Count of the Domain 
more important. The collection of the land-tax, far 
the most important item of the Imperial revenue, was 
also made subject to his authority. Finally, in order, 
as Cassiodorus quaintly observes 1 , that his jurisdiction 
should not be exercised only over slaves (the cultivators 
of the State domains), some authority was given to him 
within the City, and by a curious division of labour 
all charges of incestuous crime, or of the spoliation of 
graves, were brought before the tribunal of the Comes 

Besides the thirteen persons who, as acting Ministers 
of the highest class, were entitled to the designation 
of Illustris, there were also those whom we may call 
honorary members of the class : the persons who 
had received the dignity of the Patriciate a dignity 
which was frequently bestowed on those who had filled 
the office of Consul, and which, unlike the others of 
which we have been speaking, was held for life. 

It is a question on which I think we need further 
information, whether a person who had once filled an 
Illustrious office lost the right to be so addressed on 
vacating it. I am not sure that we have any clear 
case in the following collection of an ex-official hold- 
ing this courtesy-rank ; but it seems probable that such 
would be the case. 

Considering also the great show of honour with which 

1 Var. vi. 8. 

90 Gradations of Hank in the Empire. 

the Consulate, though now destitute of all real power, 
was still greeted, it seems probable that the Consuls for 
the year would rank as Illustres ; but here, too, we seem 
to require fuller details. 

Specta- II. We now come to the Second Class, the Spectabiles, 
>nes ' which consists chiefly of the lieutenants and deputies of 
the Illustres. 

For instance, every Praetorian Praefect had imme- 
diately under him a cerrain number of Vicarii, each of 
whom was a Spectabilis. The Praefecture included an 
extent of territorjTequivalent to two or three countries of 
Modern Europe (for instance, the Praefecture of the 
Gauls embraced Britain, Gaul, a considerable slice of 
Germany, Spain, and Morocco). This was divided into 
Dioceses (in the instance above referred to Britain formed 
one Diocese, Gaul another, and Spain with its attendant 
portion of Africa a third), and the Diocese was again 
divided into Provinces. The title of the ruler of the 
Diocese, who in his restricted but still ample domain 
wielded a similar authority to that of the Illustrious 
Praefect, was Spectabilis Vicarius. 

But the Praefect and the Vicar controlled only the 
civil government of the territories over which they 
respectively bore sway. The military command of the 
Diocese was vested in a Spectabilis Comes, who was under 
the orders of the Illustrious Magister Militum. Sub- 
ordinate in some way to the Comes was the Dux, who 
was also a Spectabilis, but whose precise relation to his 
superior the Comes is, to me at least, not yet clear 1 . 

1 I think the usual account of the matter is that which I have given 
elsewhere (Italy and her Invaders, i. 227), that the Comes had military 
command in the Diocese and the Dux in the Province. But on closer 
examination I cannot find that the Notitia altogether bears out thia 
view. It gives us for the Western Empire eight Comites and twelve 
Duces. The former pretty nearly correspond to the Dioceses, but the 
latter are far too few for the Provinces, which number forty-two, excluding 
all the Provinces of Italy. Besides, in some cases the jurisdiction appears 
to be the same. Thus we. have both a Dux and a Comes Britanniarum, 

Specialties; Clarissimi. 91 

Besides these three classes of dignitaries, the Castrensis, 
who was a kind of head steward in the Imperial house- 
hold, and most of the Heads of Departments in the great 
administrative offices, such as the Primicerius Notariorum 
and the Magistri Scriniorum T , bore the title of Specta- 
bilis. We have perhaps hardly sufficient data for an 
exact calculation, but I conjecture that there would be as 
many as fifty or sixty Spectabiles in the Kingdom of 

It appears to me that the epithet Sublimis (which is 
almost unknown to the Theodosian Code), when it 
occurs in the 'Variae' is used as synonymous with 
Spectabilis 2 . 

III. The Clarissimi were the third rank in the official Claris- 
hierarchy. To our minds it may appear strange that siml * 
the 'most renowned' should come below ' the respectable,' 
but such was the Imperial pleasure. The title ' Claris- 
simus ' had moreover its own value, for from the time/of 
Constantino onwards it was conferred on all the members 
of the Senate, and was in fact identical with Senator 3 ; 
and this was doubtless, as Usener points out 4 , the reason 
why the letters Cl. were still appended to a Roman noble- 
man's name after he had risen higher in the official scale 

and the Dux Mauritaniae Caesariensis must, one would think, have held 
command in a region as large or larger than the Comes Tingitaniae. 
Again, we have a Comes Argentoratensis and a Dux Moguntiacensis, 
two officers whose power, one would think, was pretty nearly equal. 
The same may perhaps be said of the Comes Litoris Saxonici in Britain 
and the Dux Tractus Armoricani et Nervicani in Gaul. While recog- 
nising a general inferiority of the Dux to the Comes, I do not think 
we can, with the Notitia before us, assert that the Provincial Duces 
were regularly subordinated to the Diocesan Comes, as the Provincial 
Consulares were to the Diocesan Vicarius. And the fact that both 
Comes and Dux were addressed as Spectabilis rather confirms this view. 

1 Probably, from the order in which they are mentioned by the Notitia. 

2 Sublimis occurs in the superscription of the following letters : i. 2 ; 
iv. 17; v. 25, 30, and 36; ix. II and 14; xii. 5. 

3 See Emil Kuhn's Verfassung des Komischen Keichs i. 182, and the 
passages quoted there. 

4 P- 31- 

92 Gradations of Rank in the Empire. 

and was entitled to be called Spectabilis or Illustris. The 
Consulares or Correctores, who administered the Provinces 
under the Vicarii, were called Clarissimi ; and we shall 
observe in the collection before us many other cases in 
which the title is given to men in high, but not the 
highest, positions in the Civil Service of the State. 

Besides the three classes above enumerated there were 
also : 

Perfec- IV. The Perfectissimi, to which some of the smaller 
mi * provincial governors belonged, as well as some of the 
clerks in the Revenue Offices (Numerarii) who had seen 
long service, and even some veteran Decurions. 

Below these again were : 

Egregii. V. The Egregii, who were also Decurions who had 
earned a right to promotion, or even what we should call 
veteran non-commissioned officers in the army (Primi- 

But of these two classes slight mention is made in the 
Theodosian Code, and none at all (I believe) in the 
* Notitia ' or the ' Letters of Cassiodorus.' 



THE official staff that served under the Koman gover- Military 
nors of high rank was an elaborately organised body, ^^ Jtep 
with a carefully arranged system of promotion, and Roman 
liberal superannuation allowances for those of its mem- Service. 
bers who had attained a certain position in the office. 

Although, in consequence of the changes introduced 
by Diocletian and Constantine, the civil and military 
functions had been for the most part divided from one 
another, and it was now unusual to see the same magis- 
trate riding at the head of armies and hearing causes in 
the Praetorium, in theory the officers of the Courts of 
Justice were still military officers. Their service was 
spoken of as a militia ; the type of their office was the 
cingulum, or military belt; and one of the leading 
officers of the court, as we shall see, was styled Corni- 
cularius, or trumpeter. 

The Praetorian Praefect, whose office had been at first 
a purely military one, had now for centuries been chiefly 
concerned in civil administration, and as Judge over the 
highest court of appeal in the Empire. His Officium 
(or staif of subordinates) was, at any rate in the Fifth 
Century, still the most complete and highly developed 
that served under any great functionary ; and probably 
the career which it offered to its members was more 
brilliant than any that they could look for elsewhere. 
Accordingly, in studying the composition of this body 
we shall familiarise ourselves with the type to which 

1 To illustrate the Eleventh Book of the Variae, Letters 1 8 to 35. 


Officium of the Praefectus Praetorio. 



fe g 

HI fo 

*S ^ 

* <1 




rs down to 
pylai (Om 

Sources of Information. 95 

all the other officia throughout the Empire more or less 
closely approximated. 

Our chief information as to this elaborate official Sources 
hierarchy is derived from three sources * : of ^ for " 

HI & tl OH 

(1) The Notitia Dignitatum, the great Official Ga- as to the 
zetteer of the Empire 2 , which in its existing shape Officium * 
appears to date from the reign of Arcadius and Hono- 

rius, early in the Fifth Century. 

(2) The De Magistratibus of Joannes Lydus, com- 
posed by a civil servant of the Eastern Empire in the 
middle of the Sixth Century. 

(3) The Variae Epistolae of Cassiodorus, the com- 
position of which ranges from about 504 to 540. 

The first of these authorities relates to the Eastern and 
Western Empires, the second to the Eastern alone, the 
third to the Western Empire as represented by the Os- 
trogothic Kingdom founded by Theodoric. 

Much light is also thrown on the subject by the 
Codes of Theodosius and Justinian. 

Godefroy's Commentary on the Theodosian Code, and 
Bethmann Hollweg's ' Gerichtsverfassung des sinken- 
den Romischen Reichs,' are the chief modern works 
which have treated of the subject. 

We will follow the order in which the various offices The Of- 
are arranged by the * Notitia,' which is most likely to described 
correspond with that of official precedence. in the 

In the second chapter of the 'Notitia Orientis,' after 
an enumeration of the five Dioceses and forty-six Pro- 
vinces which are ' sub dispositione viri illustris Praefecti 
Praetorio per Orientem,' we have this list, ' Officium viri 
illustris Praefecti Praetorio Orientis : ' 




1 See Table, p. 94. 

2 To use a modern illustration, we might perhaps say that the Notitia 
Dignitatum = Whi taker's Almanac + the Army last. 

96 Officium of the Praefectus Praetorio. 


Ab actis. 



Cura Epistolarum. 





The lists of the officia of all the other Praetorian 
Praefects in the ' Notitia ' are exactly the same as this, 
except that under the head 'Praefectus Praetorio per 
Illyricum ' we have, instead of the simple entry ' Nume- 

' Numerarii quatuor : in his auri unus, operum alter ;' 

and the ' Praefectus Urbis Romae ' had under his Nume- 
rarii, a 

' Primiscrinius/ 

and between the ' Adjutores ' and ( Singularii,' 
Censuales and 

We will go through the offices enumerated above in 
order : 

Princeps. (i) The PRINCEPS was the head of the whole official 
staff. In the case of the officium of the Praetorian Prae- 
fect, however, this officer seems, after the compilation of 
the ' Notitia,' to have disappeared, and his rights and pri- 
vileges became vested in the Cornicularius. It will be 
observed that in the letters of Cassiodorus to the mem- 
bers of his staff there is none addressed to the Princeps ; 
and similarly there is no mention of a Princeps as serv- 
ing under the Praetorian Praefect in the treatise of 
Lydus. This elimination of the Princeps, however, was 
not universally applicable to all the officia. Cassiodorus 
(xi. 35) mentions a Princeps Augustorum, who was, 
perhaps, Princeps of the Agentes in Rebus ; and Lydus 

The Cornicularius. 97 

more distinctly ( ; De Mag.' iii. 24) speaks of a bargain 
made between the Cornicularius of the Praetorian Prae- 
fect and the ITpi'y/ax/r r&v juayio-rpiazxSz;, who must be 
supposed to be Princeps in the officium of the Ma- 
gister Officiorum, though no such officer appears in the 

Speaking generally, however, we may perhaps say 
that the greater part of what we are about to hear con- 
cerning the rights and endowments of the Cornicularius 
in the Praefect's office might be truly asserted of the 
Princeps at the time when the 'Notitia' was compiled, 
before the two offices had been amalgamated. 

(2) The Cornicularius. As to this officer we have a Comicu- 
good many details in the pages of Joannes Lydus. a 
The antiquarian and etymological part of his information 
must generally be received with caution ; but as to the 
actual privileges of the office in the days of Justinian we 
may very safely speak after him, since it was an office 
which he himself held, and whose curtailed gains and 
privileges caused him bitter disappointment. 

' The foremost in rank,' says he 2 , ' of the Emperor's 
assistants (Adjutores) is even to this day called Corni- 
cularius, that is to say horned (Kepainjs), OY fighting in 
the front rank. For the place of the monarch or the Caesar 
was in the middle of the army, where he alone might 
direct the stress of battle. This being the Emperor's place, 
according to Frontinus, on the left wing was posted the 
Praefect or Master of the Horse, and on the right the 
Praetors or Legati, the latter being the officers left in 
charge of the army when their year of office was drawing 
to a close, to hold the command till the new Consul 
should come out to take it from them. 

* Of the whole Legion then, amounting to 6,000 men, . 
exclusive of cavalry and auxiliaries, as I before said, the 
Cornicularius took the foremost place ; and for that 
reason he still presides over the whole [civil] service, 

1 See also Var. 24 and 28. 2 De Mag. iii. 3, 4. 


98 Officium of Praefectus Praetorio. 

now that the Praefect, for reasons before stated, no longer 
goes forth to battle. 

' Since, then, all the rest of the staff are called 
assistants (Adjutores), the Praefect gives an intimation 
under his own hand to him who is entering the ser- 
vice in what department (KaraXoyos) he is ordered 
to take up his station 1 . And the following are the 
names of all the departments of the service. First the 
Cornicularius, resplendent in all the dignity of a so- 
called Count (KO/A^? ; comes ; companion), but having 
not yet laid aside his belt of office, nor received the 
honour of admission to the palace, or what they call 
brevet-rank (codicilli vacantes), which honour at the end 
of his term of service is given to him, and to none of the 
other chiefs of departments 2 . 

'And after the Cornicularius follow: 

' 2 Primiscrinii, 

' 2 Commentarisii, 

* 2 Regendarii, 

1 2 Curae Epistolarum, 
' 15 Scholae of Exceptores, 
and then the " unlearned service " of the Singularii V 

Again, further on 4 , Lydus, who delights to ' magnify 
his office,' gives us this further information as to the 
rank and functions of the Cornicularius : 

' Now that, if I am not mistaken, we have described 
all the various official grades, it is meet to set forth the 
history of the Cornicularius, the venerable head of the 
Civil Service, the man who, as beginning and ending, 
sums up in himself the complete history of the whole 
official order. The mere antiquity of his office is 

1 Lydus here gives the Formula for the admission of assistants, 'et 
colloca eum in legione prima adjutrice nostra,' which he proceeds to trans- 
late into Greek for the benefit of his readers (/eat Tageias avrbv tv TO> irpurcf) 
rd^fMTi rS> &or)0ovvTi rjiuv}. 

2 I have slightly expanded a sentence here, but this is evidently the 
author's meaning. 

3 Condensed from Lydus, De Mag. iii. 4-7. * Ib. iii. 22-24. 

The Cornicularius. 99 

sufficient to establish his credit, seeing that he was the 
leader of his troop for 1,300 years, and made his 
appearance in the world at the same time with the 
sacred City of Rome itself: for the Cornicularius was, 
from the first, attendant on the Master of the Horse, and 
the Master of the Horse on the King, and thus the 
Cornicularius, if he retained nothing of his office but the 
name, would still be connected with the very beginnings 
of the Roman State. 

* But from the time when Domitian appointed Fuscus 
to the office of Praefect of the Praetorians (an office which 
had been instituted by Augustus), and abolished the rank 
of Master of the Horse, taking upon himself the command 
of the army x , everything was changed. Henceforward, 
therefore, all affairs that were transacted in the office of 
the Praefect were arranged by the Cornicularius alone, 
and he received the revenues arising from them for his own 
refreshment. This usage, which prevailed from the days 
of Domitian to our own Theodosius, was then changed, on 
account of the usurpation of Rufinus. For the Emperor 
Arcadius, fearing the overgrown power of the Praefectoral 
office, passed a law that the Princeps of the Magister 
[OfficiorumJ's staff 2 . . . should appear in the highest courts, 
and should busy himself with part of the Praefect's 
duties, and especially should enquire into the principle 
upon which orders for the Imperial post-horses 
((TvvQripaTa ; evectiones) were granted 3 . . . . This order 
of Arcadius was inscribed in the earlier editions of the 
Theodosian Code, but has been omitted in the later as 

'Thus, then, the Princeps of the Magistriani, being 
introduced into the highest courts, but possessing 
nothing there beyond his mere empty dignity, made a 

1 This seems to be the meaning of Lydus, but it is not clearly expressed. 

2 There is something wanting in the text here. 

3 See Cod. Theod. vi. 29. 8, which looks rather like the law alluded to 
by Lydus, notwithstanding his remark about its omission. 

H 2 

100 Officium of Praefectus Praetorio. 

bargain with the Cornicularius of the day, the object 
of which was to open up to him some portion of the 
business ; and, having come to terms, the Princeps agreed 
to hand over to the Cornicularius one pound's weight of 
gold [,^40] monthly, and to give instant gratuities to all 
his subordinates according to their rank in the service. 
In consequence of this compact the Cornicularius then 
in office, after receiving his 1 2 Ibs. weight of gold without 
any abatement, with every show of honour conceded to 
his superior 1 (?) the preferential right of introducing 
" one-membered " cases (rrjv r&v novo^p&v tvrv\iG>v 
ela-ayto-yrjv), having reserved to himself, beside the fees 
paid for promotion in the office 2 , and other sources 
of gain, especially the sole right of subscribing the Acta 
of the court, and thus provided for himself a yearly 
revenue of not less than 1,000 aurei [<^?6oo].' 

I have endeavoured to translate as clearly as possible 
the obscure words of Lydus as to this bargain between 
the two court-officers. The complaint of Lydus appears 
to be that the Cornicularius of the day, by taking the 
money of the Princeps Magistrianorum, and conceding 
to him in return the preferential claim to manage 
' one-membered ' cases (or unopposed business), made a 
purse for himself, but prepared the way for the ruin 
of his successors. The monthly payment was, I think, 
to be made for twelve months only, and thus the whole 
amount which the Cornicularius received from this 
source was only ^480, but from other sources chiefly 
the sums paid for promotion by the subordinate mem- 
bers of the officiwn t and the fees charged by him for 
affixing his subscription to the acta of the court he still 
between" remained in receipt of a yearly revenue of j6oo. 
the . The jealousy between the Officia of the Praetorian 

of the Praefect and the Magister Officiorum was intense. 

Almost everv li ne i n the treatise of Lydus testifies to it, 
Magister. and shows that the former office, in which he had the 

1 T> Kpe'tTTOVl. 2 l/f TOV PdOfiOV. 

Decline of the Office of the Cornicularius. 101 

misfortune to serve, was being roughly shouldered out 
of the way by its younger and more unscrupulous 

Lydus continues 1 : 'Now, what followed, like the 
Peleus of Euripides, I can never describe without tears. 
For on account of all these sources of revenue having 
been dried up, I myself have had to bear my part in the 
general misery of our time, since, though I have reached 
the highest grade of promotion in the service, I have 
derived nothing from it but the bare name. I do not 
blush to call Justice herself as a witness to the truth of 
what I say, when I affirm that I am not conscious of 
having received one obol from the Princeps, nor from 
the Letters Patent for promotions in the office 2 . For 
indeed whence should I have derived it, since it was 
the ancient custom that those who in any way appeared 
in the highest courts should pay to the officium seven 
and thirty aurei [^22] for a " one-membered " suit; but 
ever after this bargain was made there has been given 
only a very moderate sum of copper not gold in a 
beggarly way, as if one were buying a flask of oil, and 
that not regularly ? Or how compel the Princeps to pay 
the ancient covenanted sum to the Cornicularius of the 
day, when he now scarcely remembered the bare name 
of that officer, as he never condescended to be present in 
the court when promotions were made from a lower 
grade to a higher ? Bitterly do I regret that I was so late 
in coming to perceive for what a paltry price I was 
rendering my long services as assistant in the courts, 
receiving in fact nothing therefrom as my own solatium. 
It serves me right, however, for having chosen that line 
of employment, as I will explain, if the reader will allow 
me to recount to him my career from its commencement 
to the present time.' 

1 De Mag. iii. 25. 

2 diro TUV \yofj.fvcav Kofj.TT\evffi[j.<j)v, apparently the same source of 
revenue as the promotion-money (rr)v rov Pa.dfj.ov irpovopiav}. 

102 Officium of Praefectus Praetorio. 

Lydus then goes on to describe his arrival at Constan- 
tinople (A.D. 511), his intention to enter the Scrinium 
Memoriae (in which he would have served under the 
Magister Officiorum), and his abandonment of this 
intention upon the pressing entreaties of his country- 
man Zoticus, who was at the time Praefectus Praetorio. 
This step Lydus looks upon as the fatal mistake of his 
life, though the consequences of it to him were in some 
degree mitigated by the marriage which Zoticus enabled 
him to make with a lady possessed of a fortune of 100 
pounds' weight of gold (^4,000). Her property, her 
virtues (for ' she was superior to all women who have 
ever been admired for their moral excellence'), and the 
consolations of Philosophy and Literature, did much to 
soothe the disappointment of Lydus, who nevertheless 
felt, when he retired to his books after forty years of 
service, in which he had reached the unrewarded post 
of Cornicularius, that his official life had been a failure. 

It has seemed worth while to give this sketch of the 
actual career of a Byzantine official, as it may illustrate 
in some points the lives of the functionaries to whom 
so many of the letters of Cassiodorus are addressed; 
though I know not whether we have any indications 
of such a rivalry at Ravenna as that which prevailed 
at Constantinople between the officium of the Praefect 
and that of the Magister. We now pass on to 
Adjutor. (3) The Adjutor. Some of the uses of this term are 
very perplexing. It seems clear (from Lydus, l De Mag.' 
iii. 3) that all the members of the officium were known 
by the generic name Adjutor es. , Here however we may 
perhaps safely assume that Adjutor means simply an 
assistant to the officer next above him, as we find, lower 
down in the list of the 'Notitia,' the Exceptores fol- 
lowed by their Adjutores. We may find a parallel to 
Adjutor in the word Lieutenant, which, for the same 
reason is applied to officers of such different rank as 
the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, a Lieutenant-General, 

The Adjutor. 103 

a Lieutenant-Colonel, and a simple Lieutenant in the 
Army or Navy. In the lists of Cassiodorus and Lydus 
we find no mention of an officer bearing the special name 
of Adjutor, but we meet instead with a Primiscrinius, Primi- 
of whom, according to Lydus, there were two. He says 1 , scnmus - 
* After the Cornicularius are two Primiscrinii, whom the 
Greeks call first of the service 2 .' And later on 3 , when 
he is describing the course of business in the secretum of 
the Praefect, as it used to be in the good old days, he 
informs us that after judgment had been given, and the 
Secretarii had read to the litigant the decree prepared 
by the Assessors and carefully copied by one of the 
Cancellarii, and after an accurate digest of the case had 
been prepared in the Latin language by a Secretarius, 
in order to guard against future error or misrepresenta- 
tion, the successful litigant passed on with the decree 
in his hand to the Primiscrinii, who appointed an 
officer to execute the judgment of the Court*. These 
men then put the decree into its final shape by means 
of the persons appointed to assist them 5 (men who 
could puzzle even the professors themselves in logical 
discussions), and endorsed it on the litigant's petition 
in characters which at once struck awe into the reader, 
and which seemed actually swollen with official im- 
portance 6 . The name and titles of the 'completing' 
officer were then subscribed. 

If the suggestion that the Primiscrinii were considered 
as in some sense substitutes (Adjutores) for the Corni- 
cularius be correct, we may perhaps account for there 

1 De Mag. iii. 4. 

2 fjierct Se TOV KOpvtKOvXdpiov irpifJUfftcpiviot Svo, ovs "EAAT/i/es irpwrovs TTJS 
ro^fo;? fca\ovffi. 

3 De Mag. iii. n. 

* Travel irpos TOVS irpifuffKptviovs ra^avras K0ipaffTr)v TOIS airoircQaffpevois'. 
Probably we should read ragovras for Taavras. 

5 cTrXrjpovv Sia TUV (3or)6eiv O.VTOIS TeTay/jicvctiv (1 Adjutores). 

6 4m TOV VWTOV Trjs tvTV)(io.^ ypd^lMOiv alSovs avroQtv airdffijs real eovffias 
6yic<v a 

104 Officium of Praefectus Praetorio. 

being two of them in the days of Lydus by the dis- 
appearance of the Princeps. The office of Cornicularius 
had swallowed up that of Princeps, and accordingly the 
single Adjutor, who was sufficient at the compilation of 
the ' Notitia,' had to be multiplied by two. 

Common- (4) The Comment ariensis. Here we come again to an 
or Com- ' officer who is mentioned by all our three authorities, 
mentari- though in Cassiodorus he seems to be degraded some 
steps below his proper rank (but this may only be from 
an accidental transposition of the order of the letters), 
and though Lydus again gives us two of the name in- 
stead of one. The last-named authority inserts next 
after the Primiscrinii 'two Commentarisii so the law 
calls those who are appointed to attend to the drawing 
up of indictments V 

The Commentariensis (or Commentarisius, as Lydus 
calls him 2 ) was evidently the chief assistant of the 
Judge in all matters of criminal jurisdiction 3 . We 
have a remarkably full, and in the main clear account 
of his functions in the pages of Lydus (iii. 16-18), from 
which it appears that he was promoted from the ranks 
of the Exceptores (shorthand writers), and had six of 
his former colleagues serving under him as Adjutores 4 . 
Great was the power, and high the position in the Civil 
Service, of the Commentariensis. The whole tribe of 
process-servers, gaolers, lictors 5 all that we now under- 
stand by the police force waited subserviently on his 
nod. It rested with him, says Lydus, to establish the 

1 KOftiJ.tvTapiffKH 5vo (OUTOJ de rovs eirl rwv v-noyLvr^jiaTcav ypaipy TO.TTO- 
Hfvovs 6 vofjLos fta\fi) (iii. 4). I accept the necessary emendation of the 
text proposed in the Bonn edition. 

2 To avoid confusion I will use the term ' Commentariensis ' through- 

3 So Bethmann Hollweg (p. 179), ' Diess ist der Gehulfe des Magistrata 
bei Verwaltung der Criminaljustiz.' I compare him in the following 
translation of Cassiodorus to a 'magistrate's clerk.' 

4 See iii. 9 (p. 203, ed. Bonn), and combine with iii. 16. The Augustales 
referred to in the latter passage were a higher class of Exceptores. 

5 Applicitarii, Clavicularii, Lictores. 


The Commentariensis. 105 

authority of the Court of Justice by means of the whole- 
some fear inspired by iron chains and scourges and the 
whole apparatus of torture 1 . Nay, not only did the 
subordinate magistrates execute their sentences by his 
agency, he had even the honour of being chosen by the 
Emperor himself to be the minister of vengeance against 
the persons who had incurred his anger or his suspicion. 
4 1 myself remember,' says Lydus, * when I was serving as 
Chartularius in the office of the Commentariensis, under 
the praefecture of Leontius (a man of the highest legal 
eminence), and when the wrath of Anastasius was kin- 
dled against Apion, a person of the most exalted rank, 
and one who had assisted in his elevation to the throne 2 , 
at the same time when Kobad, King of Persia, blazed 
out into fury 3 , that then all the confiscations and banish- 
ments which were ordered by the enraged Emperor were 
entrusted to no one else but to the Commentarienses 
serving under the Praefect. In this service they ac- 
quitted themselves so well, with such vigour, such har- 
monious energy, such entire clean-handedness and absence 
of all dishonest gain, as to move the admiration of the 
Emperor, who made use of them on all similar occasions 
that presented themselves in the remainder of his reign. 
They had even the honour of being employed against 
Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople, when that pre- 
late had provoked the Emperor by suspending all in- 
tercourse with him as a heretic ; and that, although 
Celer, one of the most intimate friends of Anastasius, 
was at that very time holding the rank of Magister 

An officer who was thus privileged to lay hands on 
Patriarch and Patrician in the name of Augustus was 

1 atSrjpeois Secr/iofs KO.I iroivaicav opyavuv KOL ir\rjKTpoav iroiKi\iq ffa\ev6vT<av 
rca (pupa TO SiKaffTrjpiov (iii. 16). 

2 teal KOivcavrjaavTOS avTca TTJS 0aai\eias. 

3 ore KwdS^s 6 Uepyrjs f(p\y^aive. The whole passage is mysterious, but 
we seem to have here an allusion to the outbreak of the Persian War 
(A.D. 502). 

106 Officium of Praefectus Praetor io. 

looked up to with awful reverence by all the lower 
members of the official hierarchy ; and Lydus, with one 
graphic touch, brings before us the glow of gratified self- 
love with which, when he was a subordinate Scriniarius, 
he found himself honoured by the familiar conversation 
of so great a person as the Commentariensis l : 'I too 
am struck with somewhat of my old awe, recurring in 
memory to those who were then holders of the office. I 
remember what fear of the Commentarisii fell upon all 
who at all took the lead in the Officium, but especially 
on the Scriniarii ; and how greatly he who was favoured 
with a chat with a Commentarisius passing by valued 
himself on the honour.' Lydus also describes to us 
how the Commentariensis, instructed by the Praefect, 
or perhaps even by the Emperor himself, would take 
with him one of his faithful servants, the Chartularii, 
would visit the abode of the suspected person (who 
might, as we have seen, be one of the very highest 
officers of the State), and would then in his presence 
dictate in solemn Latin words the indictment which 
was to be laid against him, the mere hearing of which 
sometimes brought the criminal to confess his guilt 
and throw himself on the mercy of the Emperor. 

It was from this commentum, the equivalent of a 
French acte d' accusation, that the Commentariensis de- 
rived his title. 

Ab Actis (5) The Ab Actis. The officer who bore this title 
rius Ac- (which is perhaps the same as the Scriniarius Actorum 
torum?). o f Cassiodorus 2 ) seems to have been exclusively con- 
cerned with civil cases, and perhaps held the same place 
in reference to them that the Commentarienses held in 
criminal matters 3 . Practically, his office appears to have 
been very much what we understand by that of Chief 
Registrar of the Court. He (or they, for in Lydus' 

1 iii. 17 (p. 210). 2 Var, xi. 22. 

3 This seems to be Bethmann Hollweg's view (p. 181). 

The Ab Actis. 107 

time there were two Ab Actis as well as two Commen- 
tarienses l ) was chosen from the select body of short- 
hand writers who were known as Augustales, and was 
assisted by six men of the same class, ' men of high 
character and intelligence and still in the vigour of their 
years V His chief business and in this he was served 
by the Nomenclatores, who shouted out in a loud voice 
the names of the litigants was to introduce the plain- 
tiff and defendant into the Court, or to make a brief 
statement of the nature of the case to the presiding 
magistrate. He then had to watch the course of the 
pleadings and listen to the Judge's decision, so as to be 
able to prepare a full statement of the case for the 
Kegisters or Journals 3 of the Court. These Registers 
at least in the flourishing days of Roman jurisprudence 
were most fully and accurately kept. Even the Dies 
Nefasti were marked upon them, and the reason for their 
being observed as legal holidays duly noted. Elaborate 
indices, prepared by the Chartularii, made search an 
easy matter to those who wished to ascertain what was 
the decision of the law upon every point ; and the mar- 
ginal notes, or personalia, prepared in Latin 4 by the Ab 
Actis or his assistants, were so excellent and so full 
that sometimes when the original entry in the Registers 
had been lost the whole case could be sufficiently recon- 
structed from them alone. 

The question was already mooted at Constantinople in 
.e sixth century whence the Ab Actis derived his some- 
what elliptical name ; and our archaeology-loving scribe 
was able to inform his readers that as the officer of the 
household who was called A Pigmentis had the care of 

1 This we learn from" iii. 20. They are not mentioned in iii. 4, where we 
should have expected to find them. 

2 e av5ps cpaffrol /cat vovv(x* ffTaT l Ka ^ ff<f>piy&VTs eri (Lydus iii. 20). 

3 pcytcrTojv fj KOTTtSiavwv (dvrl TOV f(pr)tJiepQjv}. 

* 'IraXiffrl. Of course the emphasis laid on this point proceeds from 
the Greek nationality of our present authority. 

108 Officium of Praefectus Praetor to. 

the aromatic ointments of the Court; as the A Sabanis 1 
had charge of the bathing towels of the baths ; as the 
A Secretis (who was called Ad Secretis by vulgar By- 
zantines, ignorant of the niceties of Latin grammar) was 
concerned in keeping the secret counsels of his Sovereign : 
so the Ab Act is derived his title from the Acts of the 
Court which it was his duty to keep duly posted up and 
j properly indexed. 

Nume- / (6) The Numerarii (whose exact number is not stated 
rarii - in the 'Notitia 2 ') were the cashiers of the Praefect's office. 
Though frequently mentioned in the Theodosian Code, 
and though persons exercising this function must always 
have existed in a great Court of Justice like the Prae- 
fect's, we hear but little of them from Cassiodorus 3 ; and 
Lydus' notices of the Siav/a/^iorcu, who seem to correspond 
to the Numerarii 4 , are scanty and imperfect. Our Ger- 
man commentator has collected the passages of the Theo- 
dosian Code which relate to this class of officers, and 
has shown that on account of their rapacity and extor- 
tion their office was subjected to a continual process of 
degradation. All the Numerarii, except those of the two 
highest classes of judges 5 , were degraded into Tabular ii, 
a name whicn had previously indicated the cashiers of a 
municipalitv/as distinguished from those in the Imperial 
service ; and the Numerarii, even of the Praetorian Prae- 
fect himself, were made subject to examination by torture. 
This was not only to be dreaded on account of the bodily 

1 caftavov = a towel. 

a Except, as before stated, those in the office of the Praetorian Praefect 
for Illyricum. These were four in number, and one of them had charge of 
'gold,' another of '[public] works.' Further information is requisite to 
enable us to explain these entries. 

3 They are alluded to in Var. xii. 13. The Canonicarii (Tax-collectors) 
had plundered the Churches of Bruttii and Lucania in the name of ' sedis 
nostrae Numerarii ;' but the Numerarii with holy horror declared that they 
had received no part of the spoils. 

4 See Bethmann Hollweg, 184. 

5 Illustres and Spectabiles. 

Numerarii; Cura Epistolarum; Regeren'darius. 109 

suffering which it inflicted, but was also a mark of the 
humble condition of those to whom it was applied. 

We may perhaps see in the Scriniarius Curae Mili- Smnia- 
taris of Cassiodorus 1 one of these Numerarii detailed ae 
for service as paymaster to the soldiers who waited upon Milita- 
the orders of the Praefect. 

(7) The Subadjuvae. This is probably a somewhat Sub- 
vague term, like Adjutores, and indicates a second and ad J uvae - 
lower class of cashiers who acted as deputies for the 
regular Numerarii. 

(8) Cura Epistolarumi. The officer who bore this title Cura 
appears to have had the duty of copying out all letters ^ stola " 
relating to fiscal matters 2 . This theory as to his office 

is confirmed by the words of Cassiodorus (Var. xi. 23): 
' Let Constantinian on his promotion receive the care of 
the letters relating to the land-tax ' (Hie itaque episto- 
larum canonicarum curam provectus accipiat). 

(9) Regerendarius, or Regendarius 3 . This officer had Kegeren- 
the charge of all contracts relating to the very important ^' en 
department of the Cursus Publicus, or Imperial Mail darius. 
Service. At the time of the compilation of the ' Notitia' 

only one person appears to have acted in this capacity 
tinder each Praefect. When Lydus wrote, there were 
two Kegendarii in each Praefecture, but, owing to the 
increasing influence of the Magister Officiorum over the 
Cursus Publicus 4 , their office had become apparently 

1 xi. 24. 

2 This is Bethmann Hollweg's interpretation of the words of Lydus, ot 
rds fier Iwt TOIS 8rjfj.offiots (poiruffas if/r](povs ypatyovffi p.6vov, TO \onrov Kara- 
tppovov/jicvoi (iii. 21). In another passage (iii. 4, 5) Lydus appears to 
assign a reason for the fact that the Praefectus Urbis Constantinopolitanae, 
the Magister Militum, and the Magister Officiorum had no Cura Episto- 
larum on their staff; but the paragraph is to me hopelessly obscure. 
Curiously enough, too, while he avers that every department of the State 
(perhaps every diocese) had, as a rule, its own Curae Epistolarum, he limits ^ 
the two in the Praetorian Praefect's office to the diocese of Pontica (reovpa 
cmaToXapovfj. YIOVTIKTJS 8uo). 

3 The first form of the name is found in the Notitia, the second in 
Lydus and Cassiodorus. 

4 It is not easy to make out exactly what Lydus wishes us to understand 

110 Officium of Praefectus Praetorio. 

little more than an ill-paid sinecure. As we hear nothing 
of similar changes in the West, the Cursus Publicus was 
probably a part of the public service which was directly 
under the control of Cassiodorus when Praetorian Prae- 
fect, and was administered at his bidding by one or more 

Excep- (10) We now come to the Exceptores, or shorthand 

tores - writers 1 , a large and fluctuating body who stood on the 

lowest step of the official ladder 2 and formed the raw 

material out of which all its higher functionaries were 

fashioned in the regular order of promotion. 

We are informed by Lydus 3 , that in his time the 

Exceptores in the Eastern Empire were divided into two 
corps, the higher one called Augustales, who were limited 
in number to thirty, and the lower, of indefinite number 
and composing the rank and file of the profession. The 
Augustales only could aspire to the rank of Cornicu- 
larius ; but in order that some prizes might still be left 
of possible attainment by the larger class, the rank of 
Primiscrinius was tenable by those who remained * on the 
rolls of the Exceptores.' The reason for this change was 
that the unchecked application of the principle of 
seniority to so large a body of public servants was 
throwing all the more important offices in the Courts of 
Justice into the hands of old men. The principle of 
* seniority tempered by selection ' was therefore intro- 
duced, and the ablest and most learned members of the 
class of Exceptores were drafted off into this favoured 
section of Augustales, fifteen of the most experienced of 

about the Cursus Publicus ; but I think his statements amount to this, that 
it was taken by Arcadius from the Praetorian Praefect and given to the 
Magister Officiorum, was afterwards restored to the Praefect, and finally 
was in effect destroyed by the corrupt administration of John of Cappa- 
docia. (See ii. 10; iii. 21, 61.) 

1 The raxwypcKpoi of Lydus. 

2 In making this statement I consider the Adjutores to be virtually 
another class of Exceptores, and I purposely omit the Singularii as not 
belonging to the Militia lAtterata, which alone I am now considering. 

8 iii. 6, 9. 

Eocceptores; Augustales. Ill 

whom were appropriated to the special service of the 
Emperor, while the other fifteen filled the higher offices 
(with the exception of the Primiscriniate) in the 
Praefectoral Courts 1 . The first fifteen were called 
Deputati 2 , the others were apparently known simply as Deputati. 

The change thus described by Lydus appears to have 
been made in the West as well as in the East, since we 
hear in the 'Variae' of Cassiodorus (xi. 30) of the 
appointment of a certain Ursus to be Primicerius of the 
Deputati, and of Beatus to take the same place among 
the Augustales 3 . 

(u) The Adjutores of the 'Notitia' were probably a Adju- 
lower class of Exceptores, who may very likely have dis- tores * 
appeared when the Augustales were formed out of them 
by the process of differentiation which has been described 

We have now gone through the whole of what was 
termed the 'Learned Service 4 ' mentioned in the 'Notitia,' 
with one exception the title of an officer, in himself 
humble and obscure, who has given his name to the 
highest functionaries of mediaeval and modern Europe. 

(12) The Cancellarius appears in the 'Notitia' only Cancella- 

1 I think this is a fair summary of Lydus iii. 9 and 10, but these para- 
graphs are very difficult and obscure. 

2 We should certainly have expected that the Augustales would be 
lose writers who were specially appropriated to the Emperor's service, 

but the other conclusion necessarily follows from the language of Lydus 
(iii. 10) : ware KOL -nevTeKaiSetca l avrwv TWV irenavuTtpcav neipa Tf ical TO) 
Xpovca KpfiTTOvcav irpos vrroypatyrjv rots @a<n\vcriv dfpopiffOrivai , ovs Ti Kal 
vvv SQITOVTCITOVS KaXovffiv, ol TOV Tcry/iaros rfav AvyovaraXicav irpcuTtvovffiv. 

3 The form of the word must I think prevent us from applying the 
Princeps Augustorum of xi. 35 to the same class of officers. 

* TOI/S tirl rats \oymaiy TrayfJL(vovs \eirovpyiais (Lydus iii. 7). Uepas . 
w5f rwv \oyiKwv TTJS rafcus avffrrjpaTcuv (iii. 21). The 'Learned Service' 
may be taken as corresponding to 'a post fit for a gentleman,' in modern 
phraseology. In our present Official Directories the members of the \oyiicf) 
rats appear to be all dignified with the title 'Esq. ;' the others have only 

112 Officinal of Praefectus Praetorio. 

once 1 , and then in connection not with the Praetorian 
Praefect, but with the Master of the Offices. At the very 
end of the Officium of this dignitary, after the six Scholae 
and four Scrinia of his subordinates, and after the 
Admissionales, whom we must look upon as the Ushers 
of the Court, comes the entry, 

Cancellarii : 

their very number not stated, the office being too obscure 
to make a few less or more a matter of importance. 

After the compilation of the 'Notitia' the office of 
Cancellarius apparently rose somewhat in importance, 
and was introduced into other departments besides that 
of the Master of the Offices. 

One Cancellarius appears attached to the Court of 
Cassiodorus as Praetorian Praefect, and from the admo- 
nitions addressed to him by his master 2 , we see that he 
had it in his power considerably to aid the administra- 
tion of justice by his integrity, or to hinder it by showing 
himself accessible to bribes. 

In describing the Cancellarius, as in almost every other 
part of his treatise, Lydus has to tell a dismal story of 
ruin and decay 3 : 

' Now the Scriniarii [subordinates of the Magister 
Officiorum] are made Cancellarii and Logothetes and 
purveyors of the Imperial table, whereas in old time the 
Cancellarius was chosen only from the ranks of Augus- 
tales and Exceptores who had served with credit. In 
those days the Judgment Hall [of the Praefect] recognised 
only two Cancellarii, who received an aureus apiece 4 
per day from the Treasury. There was aforetime in the 
Court of Justice a fence separating the Magistrate from 
his subordinates, and this fence, being made of long 
splinters of wood placed diagonally, was called cancellus, 
from its likeness to network, the regular Latin word for 

1 Occidentis ix. 15. 2 In Var. xi. 6, which see. 

3 iii. 36, 37. * About twelve shillings. 

Militia Uliterata. 113 

a net being casses, and the diminutive cancellus 1 . At 
this latticed barrier then stood two Cancellarii, by 
whom, since no one was allowed to approach the judg- 
ment-seat, paper was brought to the members of the staff 
and needful messages were delivered. But now that the 
office owing to the number of its holders 2 has fallen into 
disrepute, and that the Treasury no longer makes a 
special provision for their maintenance, almost all the 
hangers-on of the Courts of Law call themselves Cancel- 
larii ; and, not only in the capital but in the Provinces, 
they give themselves this title in order that they may be 
able more effectually to plunder the wealthy.' 

This description by Lydus, while it aptly illustrates 
Cassiodorus' exhortations to his Cancellarii to keep 
their hands clean from bribes, shows how lowly their 
office was still considered ; and indeed, but for his state- 
ment that it used to be filled by veteran Augustales, we 
might almost have doubted whether it is rightly classed 
among the ' Learned Services ' at all. 

Now at any rate we leave the ranks of the gentle- End of 
men of the Civil Service behind us, and come to the j^i 
' Militia Hliterata,' of whom the ' Notitia ' enumerates rata. 

(13) The Singularii, a class of men of whose useful Militia 
services Lydus speaks in terms of high praise, contrast- J^?" 
ing their modest efficiency with the pompous verbosity 3 Singu- 
of the Magistriani (servants of the Master of the Offices) 
>y whom they were being generally superseded in his 
day. They travelled through the Provinces, carrying the 
Praefect's orders, and riding in a post-chaise drawn by a 
single horse (veredus), from which circumstance, according 
to Lydus, they derived their name Singularii 4 . 

1 This derivation from casses is, of course, absurd. 
3 Can this be the meaning of eis irXrjOos ? 

3 Kofiiro(paK\\oppijnoavvr} = Pomp-bundle-wordiness, an Aristophanic 

4 De Dignitatibus Hi. 7. 


114 Offiriwm of Praefectus Praetorio. 

We observe that the letter of Cassiodorus 1 addressed to 
the retiring chief (Primicerius) of the Singularii informs 
him that he is promoted to a place among the King's 
Body-guard (Domestic! et Protectores), a suitable reward 
for one who had not been a member of the 'Learned 

After the Singularii Lydus mentions the Mancipes, 
the men who were either actually slaves or were at any 
rate engaged in servile occupations ; as, for instance, the 
bakers at the public bakeries, the Rationalii, who dis- 
tributed the rations to the receivers of the annona 2 , the 
Applicitarii (officers of arrest), and Clavicularii (gaolers), 
who, as we before heard, obeyed the mandate of the 
Commentariensis. The Lictors, I think, are not men- 
tioned by him. A corresponding class of men would 
probably be the Apparitores, who in the ' Notitia ' appear 
almost exclusively attached to the service of the great 
Ministers of War 3 . 

Thus, it will be seen, from the well-paid and often 
highly-connected Princeps, who, no doubt, discussed the 
business of the court with the Praetorian Praefect on 
terms of friendly though respectful familiarity, down to 
the gaoler and the lictor and the lowest of the half- 
servile mancipes, there was a regular gradation of rank, 
which still preserved, in the staff of the highest court 
of justice in the land, all the tra.rlii-.inns of an hnrrli nation 
and discipline which had once characterised t.hft mili- 
tary organisation out of which it originally sprang. 

1 Var. xi. 31. 

2 This seems a probable explanation of a rather obscure passage. 

3 See the following sections of the Notitia : Magister Militum Praesen- 
tatis (Oriens v. 74, vi. 77; Occidens v. 281, vi. 93); M. M. per Orientem 
(Or. vii. 67)5 M. M. per Thracias (Or. viii. 61); M. M. per Illyricum (Or. 
ix. 56) ; Magister Equitum per Gallias (Occ. vii. 117). The only civil officer 
who has Apparitores is the Proconsul Achaiae (Oriens xxi. 14). 



THE Ecclesiastical History (' Historia Tripartita ') seems 
to have been the first of the works of Cassiodorus to 
attract the notice of printers at the revival of learning. 
The Editio Princeps of this book (folio) was printed by Editiones 
Johann Schuszler, at Augsburg, in 1472 l . 

The Editio Princeps of the ' Chronicon ' is contained in 
a collection of Chronicles published at Basel in 1529 by 
Joannes Sichardus (printer, Henricus Petrus). The con- 
tribution of Cassiodorus is prefaced by an appropriate 
Epistle Dedicatory to Sir Thos. More, in which a parallel 
is suggested between the lives of these two literary 

Next followed the Editio Princeps of the ' Variae,' pub- 
lished at Augsburg in 1533, by Mariangelus Accurtius. 

In 1553, Joannes Cuspinianus, a counsellor of the 
Emperor Maximilian, published at Basel a series of 
Chronicles with which he interwove the Chronicle of 
Cassiodorus, and to which he prefixed a short life of 
our author. 

The Editio Princeps of the collected works of Cassio- Edition 
dorus was published at Paris in 1579 by Sebastianus 
Nivellius ; and other editions by the same publisher fol- 
lowed in 1584 and 1589. This edition does not contain 
the Tripartite History, the Exposition of the Psalter, or 
the * Complexiones ' on the Epistles. Some notes, not 

1 This edition is described by Dibdin (Bibliotheca Spenceriana iii. 

I 2 

116 Bibliography. 

without merit, are added, which were compiled in 1578 
by * Gulielmus Fornerius, Parisiensis, Regius apud Au- 
relianenses Consiliarius et Antecessor.' The annotator 
says 1 that these notes had gradually accumulated on the 
margin of his copy of Cassiodorus, an author who had 
been a favourite of his from youth, and whom he had 
often quoted in his forensic speeches. 

The edition of Nivellius, which is evidently prepared 
with a view to aid the historical rather than the theo- 
logical study of the writings of Cassiodorus, contains also 
the Gothic history of Jordanus (sic), the ' Edictum Theo- 
derici,' the letter of Sidonius describing the Court of 
Theodoric II the Visigoth (453-466), and the Panegyric 
of Ennodius on Theodoric the Great. The letter of 
Sidonius is evidently inserted owing to a confusion 
between the two Theodorics ; and this error has led 
many later commentators astray. But the reprint of the 
* Edictum Theoderici ' is of great interest and value, be- 
cause the MS. from which it was taken has since dis- 
appeared, and none other is known to be in existence. 
A letter is prefixed to the 'Edictum,' written by Pierre 
Pithou to Edouard Mole', Dec. 31, 1578, and describing 
his reasons for sending this document to the publisher 
who was printing the works of Cassiodorus. At the 
same time, ' that the West might not have cause to envy 
the East,' he sent a MS. of the ' Leges Wisigothorum,' with 
illustrative extracts from Isidore and Procopius, which 
is printed at the end of Nivellius' edition. 

I express no opinion about the text of this edition ; 
but it possesses the advantage of an Index to the * Variae ' 
only, which will be found at the end of the Panegyric oi 
Ennodius. Garet's Index, which is in itself not so full, 
has the additional disadvantage of being muddled up 
with the utterly alien matter of the Tripartite History. 

In 1588 appeared an edition in 4to. of the works oi 
Cassiodorus (still excluding the Tripartite History and 

1 P- 492- 

Early Editions. 117 

the Biblical Commentaries), published at Paris by Marc 
Orry. This was republished in 1600 in two volumes 

The ' Variae ' and ' Chronicon ' only, in 1 2mo. were pub- 
lished at Lyons by Jacques Chouet in 1595, and again 
by Pierre and Jacques Chouet at Geneva in 1609, and 
by their successors in 1650. These editions contain the 
notes of Pierre Brosse, Jurisconsult, as well as those of 

In 1679 appeared, in two volumes folio, the great Edition 
Rouen edition by Franyois Jean Garet (of the Congre- 
gation of S. Maur), which has ever since been the 
standard edition of the works of Cassiodorus. Garet 
speaks^ of collating several MSS. of various ages for 
the text of this edition, especially mentioning 'Codex 
S. Audoeni' (deficient for Books 5, 6, and 7 of the 
' Variae '), ' et antiquissimae membranae S. Remigii Re- 
mensis' (containing only the first four books of the 
same collection). A codex which once belonged to the 
jurist Cujacius, and which had been collated with 
Accurtius' text in 1575 by a certain Claude Grulart, 
seems to have given Garet some valuable readings by 
means of Grulart's notes, though the codex itself had 
disappeared. Garet's edition was re-issued at Venice 
in 1729, and more recently in Migne's 'Patrologia' 
(Paris, 1 865), of which it forms vols. 69 and 70. 

There can be little doubt, however, that all these Forth- 
tions will be rendered obsolete by the new edition ^^ 
hich is expected to appear as a volume of the ' Auc- * ion b y 
res Antiquissimi ' in the Monumenta Germaniae 
'istorica. The editor is Professor Wilhelm Meyer, of 
unich. The work has been for some years announced 
near completion, but I have not been able to ascertain 
how soon it may be expected to appear. 

Finally, I must not omit to notice the fragments of Supposed 
an oration published by Baudi de Vesme in the Trans- tf^T 
actions of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Turin tions. 


MS. of the AA of the CovneH of 

in i&tt by Angeio MsL who 
to '-""irt-r ttem to Hj <! (the 
M^B tha tothe earijpuiof the fifth 
On irfcctina haveta he came to Ae 

part of a 
r appe 
style is 

to that of 

the dovbi as to 



wfll be i 



by Can* prefixed to his edition of 1679. I cannot 

to be a creditable | ilia , the work of on 
had carefully studied the 'Tariae,' \m 

to per- 

The fife 
de Sfe Jfortie ( ; Tie de 

Modern Monographs. 119 

some further gratuitous entanglements of his own into 

the family history of the Cassiodori. 

All these works, however, are rendered entirely obso- Modem 
lete by three excellent monographs which have recently 
been published in Germany on the life and writings of 
Cassiodorus. These are 

August Thorbecke's 'Cassiodorus Senator' (Heidelberg, 
1867); becke - 

Adolph Franz s ( M. Aurelius Cassiodorius Senator ' Franz. 
(Breslau, 1872); and 

Hermann Usener s 'Anecdoton Holderi' (Bonn, 1877), Usener. 
described in the second chapter of this introduction. 

Thorbecke discusses the political, and Franz the reli- 
gious and literary aspects of the life of their common 
hero, and between them they leave no point of importance 
in obscurity. Usener, as we have already seen, brings 
an important contribution to our knowledge of the 
subject in presenting us with Holder's fragment; and 
his Commentary (of eighty pages) on this fragment is 
a model of patient and exhaustive research. It seems 
probable that these three authors have really said pretty 
nearly the last word about the life and writings of Cas- 
siodorus. In addition to these authors many writers of 
historical works in Germany have of late years inci- 
dentally contributed to a more accurate understanding 
of the life and times of Cassiodorus. 

Dahn, in the third section of his ' Kb'nige der Germa- 
nen' (Wiirzburg, 1866), has written a treatise on the 
political system of the Ostrogoths which is almost a 
continuous commentary on the 'Variae,' and from which 
I have derived the greatest possible assistance. 

Kopke, in his ' Anfange des Konigthums bei den Gothen ' 
(Berlin, 1859), has condensed into a small compass a 
large amount of useful disquisition on Cassiodorus and . 
his copyist Jordanes. The relation between these two 
writers was also elaborately discussed by von Sybel in 
his thesis 'De Fontibus Libri Jordanis' (Berlin, 1838), 

120 % Bibliography. 

and by Schirren, in his monograph 'De Ratione quae 
inter Jordanem et Cassiodorum intercedat' (Dorpat, 
1885). The latter, though upon the whole a creditable 
performance, is disfigured by one or two strange 
blunders, and not improved by some displays of irrelevant 

Von Schubert, in his ' Unterwerfung der Alamannen 
unter die Franken' (Strassburg, 1884), throws some 
useful light on the question of the date of the early 
letters in the 'Variae ;' and Binding, in his * Geschichte 
des Burgundisch-Romanischen Konigreichs ' (Leipzig, 
1868), discusses the relations between Theodoric and 
the Sovereigns of Gaul, as disclosed by the same collec- 
tion of letters, in a manner which I must admit to be 
forcible, though I do not accept all his conclusions. 

Mommsen, in his paper ' Die Chronik des Cassiodorus 
Senator ' (Vol. viii. of the ' Abhandlungen der Kbniglich 
Sachsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften ;' Leipzig, 
1861), has said all that is to be said concerning the 
unfortunate ' Chronicon' of Cassiodorus, which he handles 
with merciless severity. 

To say that Ebert, in his 'Allgemeine Geschichte der 
Litteratur des Mittelalters im Abendlande' (Leipzig, 
1874), and Wattenbach, in his ' Deutschlands Geschichts- 
quellen im Mittelalter/ tell us with fullness and accuracy 
just what the student ought to wish to know concern- 
ing Cassiodorus as an author, is only to say that they 
are Ebert and Wattenbach. Every one who has had 
occasion to refer to these two books knows their merits. 

Passing from German literature, I regret that I am 
prevented by ignorance of the Dutch language from 
forming an opinion as to the work of Thijm (' lets over 
M. A. Cassiodorus en zijne eeuw ;' Amsterdam, 1 857), which 
is frequently quoted by my German authorities. 

Gibbon of course quotes from the ' Variae,' and though 
he did not know them intimately, he has with his usual 
sagacity apprehended the true character of the book and of 

Recent Literature. 121 

its author. But the best account of the * Various Letters' 
in English, as far as I know, is unfortunately entombed 
in the pages of a periodical, being an article by Dean 
Church, contributed in July, 1880, to the * Church Quar- 
terly Keview.' There is also a very good though neces- 
sarily brief notice of Cassiodorus in Ugo Balzani's little 
volume on the ' Early Chroniclers of Italy,' published by 
the Christian Knowledge Society in 1883. 



IN the following chronological table of the life of 
Cassiodorus I have, for convenience sake, assumed 480 
as the year of his birth, and 575 as that of his death. It 
is now, I think, sufficiently proved that if these dates are 
not absolutely correct, they cannot be more than a year 
or two wrong in one direction or the other. 
Consular As dates were still reckoned by Consulships, at any 
Fastl * rate through the greater part of the life of Cassiodorus, 
I have inserted the Consular Fasti for the period in 
question. It will be seen that several names of corre- 
spondents of Cassiodorus figure in this list. As a general 
though not universal practice, one of the two Consuls at 
this time was chosen from out of the Senate of Rome 
and the other from that of Constantinople. We can 
almost always tell whether a chronicler belongs to the 
Eastern or Western Empire by observing whether he 
puts the Eastern or Western Consul first. Thus, for A.D. 
501, Marcellinus Comes, who was an official of the Eastern 
Empire, gives us ' Pompeius et Avienus, Coss. ;' while Cas- 
siodorus, in his * Chronicon,' assigns the year to 'Avienus 
et Pompeius.' Pompeius was a nobleman of Constan- 
tinople, nephew of the Emperor Anastasius ; while Avi- 
enus was a Roman Senator x . Again, in A.D. 490, Marcel- 
linus gives the names of Longinus and Faustus, which 
Cassiodorus quotes as Faustus and Longinus. Longinus 
was a brother of the Emperor Zeno, and Faustus was for 
many years Praetorian Praefect under Theodoric, and was 
the receiver of many letters in the following collection. 

1 See Usener, p. 32. 

Indictions. 123 

I have endeavoured to give the priority always to the 
Western Consul in the list before us, except in those 
cases where an Emperor (who was of course an Eastern) 
condescended to assume the Consular trabea. 

Another mode of reckoning the dates which the reader lndic> 
will continually meet with in the following pages is by tlcma ' 
Indictions. The Indiction, as is well known, was a cycle 
of fifteen years, during which, as we have reasonjbp 
believe, the assessment for^the taxes remained undis- 
turbed, a fresh valuation being made all round when 
the cycle was ended. Traces of this quindecennial 
penocTmay be found in the third century, but the formal 
adoption of the Indiction is generally assigned to the 
Emperor Constantine, and to the year 313 l . The Indiction 
itself, and every one of the years composing it, began on 
the ist of September of the calendar year. The reason for 
this period being chosen probably was that the harvests 
of the year being then gathered in, the collection of the 
tithes of the produce, which formed an important part of 
the Imperial revenue, could be at once proceeded with. 
What gives an especial importance to this method of 
dating by Indictions, for the reader of the following 
letters is, that most of the great offices of State changed 
hands at the beginning of the year of the Indiction 
(Sept. i), not at the beginning of the Calendar year. 

To make such a mode of dating the year at all satis- 
factory, it would seem to us necessary that the number 
of the cycle itself, as well as of the year in the cycle, 
should be given; for instance, that A.D. 313 should be 
called the first year of the first Indiction, and A.D. 351 
the ninth year of the third Indiction. This practice, 
however, was not adopted till far on into the Middle 
Ages 2 . At the time we are speaking of, the word Indic- 

1 Compare Marquardt (Romische Staatsverwaltung ii. 237). He remarks 
that the Indiction seems to have been first adopted in Egypt, and did not 
come into universal use all over the Empire till the end of the Fourth 

2 The Twelfth Century, according to Marquardt. 

124 Chronology. 

tion seems generally to have been given not to the cycle 
itself, but to the year in the cycle. Thus, 313 was the 
first Indiction, 314 the second Indiction, 315 the third 
Indiction, and so on. And thus we find a year, which 
from other sources we know to be 313, called the first 
Indiction, 351 the ninth Indiction, 537 the fifteenth 
Indiction, without any clue being given to guide us to 
the important point in what cycles these years held 
respectively the first, the ninth, and the fifteenth places. 

As the Indiction began on the ist of September a 
question arises whether the calendar year is to be 
named after the number of the Indiction which belongs 
to its beginning or its end; whether, to go back to 
the beginning, A.D. 312 or A.D. 313 is to be accounted 
the first Indiction. The practice of the chroniclers and 
of most writers on chronology appears to be in favour 
of the latter method, which is natural, inasmuch as nine 
months of the Indiction belong to the later date and 
only three to the earlier. Thus, for instance, Marcellinus 
Comes calls the year of the Consulship of Belisarius, 
which was undoubtedly 535, ' Indictio XIII : ' the thir- 
teenth Indiction of that cycle having begun Sept. T, 534, 
and ended August 31, 535. But it is well that the 
student should be warned that our greatest English 
authority, Mr. Fynes Clinton, adopts the other method. 
In the very useful table of comparative chronology 
which he gives in his Fasti Komani x he assigns the 
Indiction to that year of the Christian era in which 
it had its beginning, and accordingly 534, not 535, is 
identified with the thirteenth Indiction. 

In order to translate years of Indiction into years 
of the Christian era it is necessary first to add some 

1 Vol. ii. pp. 214-216. See his remarks, p. 210: 'The Inductions in 
Marcellinus and in the Tables of Du Fresnoy are compared with the 
Consulship and the Julian year in which they end. In the following 
Table they are compared with the year in which they begin, because 
the years of the Christian era are here made the measure of the rest, and 
contain the beginnings of all the other epochs-.' 

Indictions. 125 

multiple of 15 (what multiple our knowledge of history 
must inform us) to 312. On the ist of September of 
the year so obtained the Indiction cycle began; and 
for any other year of the same cycle we must of course 
add its own number minus one. Thus, when we find 
Cassiodorus as Praetorian Praefect writing a letter 1 
informing Joannes of his appointment to the office of 
Cancellarius ' for the twelfth Indiction,' as we know 
within a little what date is wanted, we first of all add 
14x15 ( = 210) to 312, and so obtain 522. The first 
Indiction in that cycle ran from September i, 522, to 
August 31, 523. The twelfth Indiction was therefore 
from September I, 533, to August 31, 534, and that is 
the date we require. 

On the other hand, when we find a letter written by 
Cassiodorus as Praetorian Praefect to the Provincials 
of Istria 2 as to the payment of tribute for the first 
Indiction, we know that we must now have entered 
upon a new cycle. We therefore add 15x15 (=225) 
to 312, and get 537. As it happens to be the first 
Indiction that we require, our calculation ends here: 
September i, 537, to August 31, 538, is the answer 

If anyone objects that such a system of chronology 
is cumbrous, uncertain, and utterly unscientific, I can 
only say that I entirely agree with him, and that the 
system is worthy of the perverted ingenuity which 
produced the Nones and Ides of the Roman Calendar. 

In the following tables I have not attempted to mark 
the years of the Indiction, on account of the confusion 
caused by the fact that two calendar years require the 
same number. But I have denoted by the abbrevia- 
tion 'Ind.' the years in which each cycle of the In- 
dictions began. These years are 492, 507, 522, 537, 552, 
and 567. 

i Var. xi. 6. 2 Var. xii. 22. 


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LEARNED men, who had become my friends through Reason 
conversations which we had had together, or benefits ca ti n : 
which I had bestowed upon them, sought to persuade J J^JJJ 1 
me to draw together into one work the various utter- 
ances which it had been my duty to make, during my 
tenure of office, for the explanation of different affairs. 
They desired me to do this, in order that future genera- 
tions might recognise the painful labours which I had 
undergone for the public good, and the workings of my 
own unbribed conscience. I then replied that their 
very kindness for me might turn out to my disad- 
vantage, since the letters which their good-will found 
acceptable might to future readers seem insipid. I re- 
minded them also of the words of Horace, warning us 
of the dangers of hasty publication. 

' You see/ said I, * that all require from me a speedy Difficulty 
reply to their petitions ; and do you think that I couch ing. 
those replies in words which leave me nothing to regret 
hereafter? Our diction must be somewhat rude when 
there is no sufficient delay to enable the speaker to choose 
words which shall rightly express the precise shade of his 
meaning. Speech is the common gift of all mankind: 
it is embellishment (ornatus) alone which distinguishes 
between the learned and unlearned. The author is told 
to keep his writings by him for nine years for reflection ; 
but I have not as many hours, hardly as many moments. 

1 Translated in full. 


As soon as I begin the petitioner worries me with his 
clamours, and hurries me too much to prevent my finish- 
ing cautiously, even if I have so begun my task. One 
vexes me past endurance by his interruptions and in- 
nuendoes ; another torments me with the doleful tale of 
his miseries ; others surround me with the mad shouts 
of their seditious contentions *. In such circumstances 
how can you expect elegance of language, when we 
have scarcely opportunity to put words together in any 
fashion? Even at night indescribable cares are flitting 
round our couch 2 , while we are harassed with fear 
lest the cities should lack their supplies of food food 
which the common people insist upon more than any- 
thing else, caring more for their bellies than for the 
gratification of their ears by eloquence. This thought 
obliges us to wander in imagination through all the 
Provinces, and ever to enquire after the execution of 
our orders, since it is not enough to tell our staff 
what has to be done, but the diligent administrator 
must see that it is done 3 . Therefore, I pray you, 
spare us your harmful love. I must decline this per- 
suasion of yours, which will bring me more of danger 
than of glory.' 

So I pleaded; but they plied me all the more with 
such arguments as these : 

ThePrae- 'All men have known you as Praefect of the Prae- 
torian throne, a dignity which all other public employ- 
ments wait upon like lacqueys. For from this high 
office, ways and means for the army are demanded ; 
from this, without any regard for the difficulty of the 

1 'Alii furiosa contentionum seditione circumdant.' This is probably 
meant to describe turbulent Goths. 

8 " X/"7 "navvv\iov tvSfiv @ov\r)<f>6pov avSpa (II. ii. 24). 

3 Quia non sufficit agenda militibus imperare, nisi haec Judicis assiduitas 
videatur exigere. 


times, the food of the people is required; on this, a 
weight of judicial responsibility is thrown, which would 
be by itself a heavy burden. Now the law, which 
has thrown this immense load on the Praefect's office, 
has, on the other hand, honoured him by putting almost 
all things under his control. In truth, what interval of 
leisure could you snatch from your public labours, when 
into your single breast flowed every claim which could 
be made on behalf of the common good of all ? 

* We must add, moreover, that when you were on The 
frequent occasions charged with the office of the Quaes- 
torship, the leisure which you might have enjoyed was 
taken from you by your own constant thoughtfulness 
for the public good ; and when you were thus bearing 
the weight of an honour which was not the highest, 
your Sovereigns used to lay upon you those duties, 
properly belonging to other offices, which their own 
holders were unable to discharge 1 . All these duties 
you discharged with absolute freedom from corruption, 
following your father's example in receiving, from those 
who hoped for your favour, nothing but the obligation 
to serve them, and bestowing on petitioners all that 
they had a right to ask for without traffic or reward. 

' Moreover, men know that the conversations which Intimacy 
you were honoured by holding with the King occu- Theodo- 
pied a large portion of your days, greatly to the nc< 
public welfare 2 , so that men of leisure have no right 

1 'Addimus etiam quod frequenter Quaesturae vicibus ingravato otii 
tempus adimit crebra cogitatio, et velut mediocribus fascibus insudanti, 
ilia tibi de aliis honoribus principes videntur imponere, quae proprii Ju- 
dices nequeunt explicare.' This is probably the clearest account that is __ 
anywhere given of the peculiar and somewhat undefined position held by 
Cassiodorus during the greater part of the reign of Theodoric. 

3 ' Regum quinetiam gloriosa colloquia pro magna diei parte in bonum 
publicum te occupare noverunt.' It is difficult to translate the expressive 
term, ' gloriosa colloquia.' 


to expect that their requirements shall be met by you, 
whose day was thus occupied with continuous toil 1 . 
But in truth this will redound yet more to your glory, 
if amid so many and such severe labours you succeed 
in writing that which is worthy to be read. Besides, 
your work can without wounding their self-love instruct 
unlettered persons who are not prepared by any con- 
sciousness of eloquence for the service of the Republic 2 ; 
and the experience which you have gained by being 
tossed to and fro on the waves of stormy altercation, 
they in their more tranquil lot may more fortunately 
make their own. Again (and here we make an appeal 
which your loyalty cannot resist), if you allow posterity 
to be ignorant of the numerous benefits conferred by 
your King, it is in vain that with benevolent eagerness 
he so often granted your requests. Do not, we pray, 
draw back once more into silence and obscurity those 
who, while you were sounding their eulogies, seemed 
worthy to receive illustrious dignities. For you then 
professed to describe them with true praises, and to 
paint their characters with the colours of history 3 . 
Now if you leave it to posterity to write the panegyric 
on these men, you take away as it were from those who 
die an honourable death the funeral oration to which, 
by the customs of our ancestors, they are entitled. Be- 
sides, in these letters you correct immorality with a 
ruler's authority ; you break the insolence of the trans- 
gressor; you restore to the laws their reverence. Do 
you still hesitate about publishing that which, as you 

1 ' Ut fastidium sit otiosis exspectare quae tu continue labore cognosceris 
sustinere.' I cannot translate this literally. 

2 Eudes viros et ad Kempublicam conscia facundia praeparatos.' Surely 
some negative has dropped out of the latter clause. 

3 * Tu enim illos assumpsisti vera laude describere, et quodammodo his- 
torico colore depingere.' 


know, satisfies so many needs ? Will you conceal, if we 
may say so, the mirror of your own mind, in which all 
ages to come may behold your likeness ? Often does it 
happen that a man begets a son unlike himself, but his 
writings are hardly ever found unequal to his cha- 
racter 1 . The progeny of his own will is his truest 
child ; what is born in the secret recesses of his own 
heart is that by which posterity will know him best. 

'You have often, amid universal acclamation, pro- Gothic 
nounced the praises of kings and queens. In twelve 
books you have compiled the History of the Goths, 
culling the story of their triumphs 2 . Since these works 
have had such favourable fortunes, and since you have 
thus served your first campaign in literature, why hesi- 
tate to give these productions of yours also to the 
public ? ' 

So pleaded my friends, and to my shame I must own Cassiodo- 
that I was conquered, and could no longer resist so many gentsTo 
prayers ; especially when I saw myself accused of want P ubllsh - 
of affection. I have now only to crave my readers' 
pardon ; and if they find rashness and presumption in my 
attempt, to blame my advisers rather than me, since my 
own judgment agrees with that of my severest critic. 

All the letters, therefore, which I have been able to find 

1 ' Contingit enim dissimilem filium plerumque generari, oratio dispar 
moribus vix potest inveniri.' 

2 ' Duodecim libris Gothorum historian! defloratis prosperitatibus con- 
didisti.' By an extraordinary error this sentence has been interpreted to 
mean that Cassiodorus wrote his history of the Goths after their prosperity 
had faded ; and some writers have accordingly laboured, quite hopelessly, 
to bring down the composition of the Gothic History to a late period in 
the reign of Athalaric. It is perfectly clear from many passages that 
Cassiodorus uses 'deflorare' in the sense of 'picking flowers,' 'culling a . 
nosegay.' See Historia Tripartita, Preface (twice); De Instit. Divin. 
Litterarum, cap. xxx ; and De Orthographia, cap. ii (title). I doubt not 
that careful search would discover many more instances. It is only 
strange to me that Cassiodorus should, by the words 'defloratis pros- 

S so naively confess the one-sided character of his history. 


in various public archives that had been dictated by me 
as Quaestor, as Magister [Officiorum], or as Praefect, are 
here collected and arranged in twelve books. By the 
variety of subjects touched upon, the attention of the 
reader will be aroused, and it will be maintained by 
the feeling that he is rapidly approaching the conclusion 
of the letter. 

I have also wished to preserve others from those 
unpolished and hasty forms of speech into which I 
am conscious that I have often fallen in announcing 
the bestowal of dignities, a kind of document which 
is often asked for in such haste that there seems scarce 
time for the mere manual labour of writing it. I 
have therefore included in my Sixth and Seventh Books 
Formulae for the granting of all the dignities of the 
State, hoping thus to be of some service to myself, 
though at a late period of my career, and to help my 
successors who may be hard pressed for time. What 
I have thus written concerning the past will serve 
equally well for the future, since I have said nothing 
about the qualities of the individual office-holder, but 
have made such explanations as seemed suitable con- 
cerning the office. 

Keason As for the title of all twelve books, the index of 

title Va- ^ ne work, the herald of its meaning, the expression 

riarum. j n briefest compass of the whole performance, I have 

for this chosen the name VARIAE. And this, because 

4" it was necessary for me not always to use the same 

style, since I had undertaken to address various kinds 

of persons. One must speak in one way to men jaded 

with much reading; in another to those who skim 

lightly over the surface, tasting here and there ; in 

another (if one would persuade them), to persons who 

are devoid of a taste for letters, since it is sometimes 


a proof of skill to avoid the very things which please 
the learned. In short, the definition given by our 
ancestors is a good one : ' To speak fitly is to persuade 
the hearers to accept your wishes for their own.' Nor 
was it at random that the prudence of Antiquity thus 
defined the three modes of speaking : 

(1) The humble style, which seems to creep along the The three 
ground in the very expression of its thought. composi- 

(2) The middle style, which is neither swollen with tlon * 
self-importance nor shrunk into littleness ; but being 
placed between the two, and enriched by a peculiar 
elegance, is contained within its own true boundaries. 

(3) The supreme style, which by exquisite phraseology 
is raised to the very highest pitch of oratory. 

The object of this distinction is that the various sorts 
and conditions of men may each receive their appropri- 
ate address, and that the thoughts which proceed from 
the same breast may nevertheless flow in divers chan- 
nels. No man is entitled to the name of eloquent who 
is not prepared to do his duty manfully with the triple 
strength of these three styles, as one cause after an- 
other may arise. It must be added hereto that we 
have sometimes to speak to Kings, sometimes to the 
Officers of the Court, sometimes to the very humblest 
of the people. To the last we may allowably pour 
out our words with some degree of haste, but the 
other addresses should be deeply pondered before they 
are delivered. Deservedly therefore is a work entitled 
VAKIAE, which is subject to so much diversity in its 

Would that, as we have received these maxims from 
those who have gone before us, so our own compositions 
could claim the praise of having reduced them into 
practice. In sooth we do with shamefacedness promise 


that the Humble style shall be found in us ; we think 
we may without dishonesty covenant for the Middle 
style ; but the Supreme style, which on account of its 
nobility is the fitting language of a royal Edict l , we 
cannot hope that we have attained unto. 

But since we are to be read, let us abstain from 
further unlawful canvassing for the votes of our readers. 
It is an incongruous thing for us to be thus piling up 
our own discourses about ourselves : we ought rather 
to wait for your judgment on our work. 

1 The editors waver between ' quod est in edicto' and ' quod est in edito 




* IT behoves us, most clement Emperor, to seek for Persua- 
peace, since there are no causes for anger between us. 81 Jl e c 8 e to 

'Peace by which the nations profit; Peace the fair between 
mother of all liberal arts, the softener of manners, the c<Tnstan- 
replenisher of the generations of mankind. Peace ought t 
certainly to be an object of desire to every kingdom. 

' Therefore, most pious of princes, it accords with your 
power and your glory that we who have already profited 
by your affection [personally] should seek concord with 
your Empire. You are the fairest ornament of all 
realms ; you are the healthful defence of the whole 
worldj to which all other rulers rightfully look up with 
reverence 1 , because they know that there is in you 
something which is unlike all others 2 : we above all, 
who by Divine help learned in your Republic the art of 
governing Romans with equity. Our royalty is an 
imitation of yours, modelled on your good purpose, a 
copy of the only Empire ; and in so far as we follow you 
do we excel all other nations. 

1 'Vos totius orbis salutare praesidium, quod caeteri dominantes jure 
suspiciunt quia in vobis singulare aliquid inesse cognoscunt.' 'Suspiciunt' 
seems to give a better sense than the other reading, ' suscipiunt.' 

' 2 ' Quia in vobis singulare aliquid inesse cognoscunt.' 

142 Cassiodori Variae. 

'Often have you exhorted me to love the Senate, 
to accept cordially the laws of past Emperors, to join 
together in one all the members of Italy. How can you 
separate from your august alliance* one whose character 
you thus try to make conformable to your own? There 
is moreover that noble sentiment, love for the City of 
Rome, from which two princes, both of whom govern in 
her name, should never be disjoined. 

' We have thought fit therefore to send A and B 1 as 
ambassadors to your most serene Piety, that Peace, which 
has been broken, through a variety of causes, may, by the 
removal of all matters of dispute, be firmly restored 
between us. For we think you will not suffer that any 
discord should remain between two Republics, which 
are declared to have ever formed one body under their 
ancient princes 2 , and which ought not to be joined by a 
mere sentiment of love, but actively to aid one another 
with all their powers. Let there be always one will, one 
purpose in the Roman Kingdom. Therefore, while greet- 
ing you with our respectful salutations, we humbly beg 
that you will not remove from us the high honour of 
your Mildness' s affection 3 , which we have a right to 
hope for if it were never granted to any others. 

' The rest of their commission will be verbally conveyed 
to your Piety by the bearers of these letters V 

1 ' Ilium atque ilium.' I shall always render this phrase (which shows 
that Cassiodorus had not preserved the names of the ambassadors) as 

2 'Quia pati vos non credimus, inter utrasque Respublicas, quarum 
semper unum corpus sub antiquis principibus fuisse declaratur, aliquid 
diacordiae permanere.' 

3 ' Pom& mente deposcimus ne suspendatis a nobis mansuetudinis vestrae 
gloriosissimam caritatem.' 

4 For some remarks on the date of this letter, see Introduction, p. 23. 
The mention of interrupted peace, which evidently requires not mere 
estrangement but an actual state of war, points to the year 505, when 
Sabinian, the general of Anastasius, was defeated by the Ostrogoths 
and their allies at Horrea Margi ; or to 508, when the Imperial fleet 
made a raid on the coast of Apulia, as probable dates for the compo- 
sition of the letter. Its place at the beginning of the Variae does not 

Book I. Letters i, i. 



' We are informed by Count Stephen that the work of Manu- 
preparing the purple for the sacred (i.e. royal) robes, 
which was put under your charge, has been interrupted dye!^ 
through reprehensible negligence on your part. There 
must be neglect somewhere, or else the wool with its 
milk-white hairs would long before now have imbibed 
the precious quality of the adorable murex. If the 
diver in the waters of Hydruntum 1 had sought for these 
murex-shells at the proper season, that Neptunian 
harvest, mixed with an abundant supply of water, 
would already have generated the flame-bright liquid 
which dyes the robes that adorn the throne. The colour 
of that dye is gay 2 with too great beauty ; 'tis a blush- 
ing obscurity, an ensanguined blackness, which dis- 
tinguishes the wearer from all others, and makes it 
impossible for the human race not to know who is the 
king. It is marvellous that that substance after death 
should for so long a time exude an amount of gore 
which one would hardly find flowing from the wounds of 
a living creature. For even six months after they have 
been separated from the delights of the sea, these shell- 
fish are not offensive to the keenest nostrils, as if on 
purpose that that noble blood might inspire no disgust. 
Once this dye is imparted to the cloth, it remains there 

at all imply priority in date to the letters which follow it. It was 
evidently Cassiodorus' method to put in the forefront of every book in 
his collection a letter to an Emperor or King, or other great personage. 

As for the tone of the letter, and the exact character of the relation 
between the Courts of Ravenna and Constantinople which is indicated 
by it, there is room for a wide divergence of opinion. To me it does 
not seem to bear out Justinian's contention (recorded by Procopius, 
De Bello Gotthico ii. 6) that Theodoric ruled Italy as the Emperor's 
lieutenant. Tinder a 11 th appar^nt-.^^ 11 ^ an ^ affectation of humility 
the..language-seema to me tobe substantially that of one equal addressing 
another, older and with a somewhat more assured position, but still an 

1 Otranto. 2 Vernans. 

144 Cassiodori Variae. 

for ever ; the tissue may be destroyed sooner than part 
with it. If the murex has not changed its quality, if 
the press (torcular) is still there to receive its one 
vintage, it must be the fault of the labourers that the 
dye is not forthcoming. What are they doing, all those 
crowds of sailors, those families of rustics ? And you 
who bear the name of Count, and were exalted high over 
your fellow-citizens on purpose that you might attend 
to this very thing, what sacrilegious negligence is this 
which you are manifesting in reference to the sacred 
vesture? If you have any care for your own safety 
come at once with the purple 1 , which you have hitherto 
been accustomed to render up every year. If not, if 
you think to mock us by delay, we shall send you not 
a constrainer but an avenger. 

' How easy was the discovery of this great branch of 
manufacture ! A dog, keen with hunger, bounding along 
the Tyrian shore, crunched the shells which were cast up 
there. The purple gore dyed his jaws with a marvellous 
colour ; and the men who saw it, after the sudden fashion 
of inventors, conceived the idea of making therewith a 
noble adornment for their kings. What Tyre is for the 
East, Hydron 2 is for Italy the great cloth-factory of 
Courts, not keeping its old art (merely), but ever trans- 
mitting new improvements.' 



Praises Extols in high-flown language the merits of the minis- 
father of ^ er wno i n ^ ne ear ty and troublous days of Theodoric's 
Cassiodo- reign conciliated the wavering affections of the suspicious 
Sicilians 4 , governed them so justly that not even they 

1 Blatta. 

2 I presume the same as Hydruntum (Otranto). 

3 Father of the Author. 

4 ' In ipso quippe imperil nostri devotus exordio, cum adhuc fluctuan- 
tibus rebus provinciarum corda vagarentur, et negligi rudem dominum 
novitas ipsa pateretur.' 

Book I. Letters 2-4. 145 

(addicted as they are, according to Cicero, to grumbling) 
could complain; then displayed equal rectitude in the 
government of his own native Province of Bruttii and 
Lucania (hard as it is to be perfectly just in the govern- 
ment of one's own native place) ; then administered the 
Praefecture in such a way as to earn the thanks of all 
Italy, even the taxes not being felt to be burdensome 
under his rule, because so justly levied ; and now, finally, 
as a reward for all these services, is raised to the distin- 
guished honour of the Patriciate. 


[Introducing Cassiodorus (Senior) on his accession to 
the honours of the Patriciate.] 

Compliments to the Senate, of which Theodoric Great 
wishes to increase the dignity by bestowing honours J^e an- 
on its most eminent members. cestors of 

Recital of the services and good qualities of Cassio- rl f 8 S for ~ 
dorus 1 : three 

(a) as ' Comes Privatarum ; ' tions. 

(6) as ' Comes Sacrarum Largitionum ; ' 

(c) as Governor of Provinces. 

(General reflections on the importance of a governor 
being himself a virtuous man). 

' Having been trained thus to official life under the 
preceding King [Odovacar] he came with well-earned 
praises to our palace.' 

(d) His eminent career as Praetorian Praefect and 
modest demeanour therein. 

Services of previous members of his family. Fame 
seems to be always at home among the Cassiodori. 
They are of noble birth, equally celebrated among . 
orators and warriors, healthy of body, and very tall. 

His father, Cassiodorus 2 , was 'Tribunus et Notarius' 

1 Father of Cassiodorus Senator. 

2 Grandfather of Cassiodorus Senator. 

146 Cassiodori Variae. 

under Valentinian III. This last was a great honour, 
for only men of spotless life were associated with the 
Imperial ' Secretum.' A friendship, founded on likeness, 
drew him to the side of Aetius, whose labours for the 
State he shared. 

Embassy to Attila. 'With the son of this Aetius, 
named Carpilio, he was sent on no vain embassy to 
Attila, the mighty in arms. He looked undaunted on 
the man before whom the Empire quailed. Calm in 
conscious strength, he despised all those terrible wrath- 
ful faces that scowled around him. He did not hesitate 
to meet the full force of the invectives of the madman 
who fancied himself about to grasp the Empire of the 
world. He found the King insolent; he left him 
pacified; and so ably did he argue down all his 
slanderous pretexts for dispute that though the Hun's 
interest was to quarrel with the richest Empire in the 
world, he nevertheless condescended to seek its favour. 
The firmness of the orator roused the fainting courage 
of his countrymen, and men felt that Kome could not 
be pronounced defenceless while she was armed with 
such ambassadors. Thus did he bring back the peace 
which men had despaired of ; and as earnestly as they 
had prayed for his success, so thankfully did they 
welcome his return.' 

He was offered honours and revenues, but preferred 
to seek the pleasant retirement of Bruttii in the land 
which his exertions had freed from the terror of the 

His father, Cassiodorus 1 , an 'IHustris.' defended th( 
coasts of Sicily and Bruttii from the Vandals, thus 
averting from those regions the ruin which afterwJ 
fell upon Rome from the same quarter. 

In the East, Heliodorus, a cousin of the Cassiodori, 
has brilliantly discharged the office of Praefect for 
eighteen years, as Theodoric himself can testify. Thus 

1 Great-grandfather of Cassiodorus Senator. 

Book I. Letters 4-6. 147 

the family, conspicuous both in the Eastern and Western 
World, has two eyes with which it shines with equal 
brilliancy in each Senate. 

Cassiodorus is so wealthy that his herds of horses 
surpass those of the King, to whom he makes presents 
of some of them in order to avoid envy. 'Hence it 
arises that our present candidate [for patrician honours] 
mounts the armies of the Goths ; and having even im- 
proved upon his education, generously administers the 
wealth which he received from his parents. 

' Now, Conscript Fathers, welcome and honour the new 
Patrician, who is so well worthy of a high place among 


* Lawsuits must not be dragged on for ever. There Interest 
must be some possibility of reaching a quiet haven, j? 1 ] u " t 

Wherefore, if the petitioners have rightly informed us sit finis 
that the controversy as to the farm at Mazenes has 
been decided in due course of law by Count Annas, 
and there is no reasonable ground for appeal 1 , let that 
sentence be held final and irreversible. We must some- 
times save a litigious man from himself, as a good doctor 
will not allow a patient to take that which is injurious 
to him.' 


[One of the MSS. reads Pontifici, but this is clearly 
wrong. The language is not at all suitable to be ad- 
dressed to a Pope, and there was no Pope Agapetus 
till 535, nine years after the death of Theodoric.] Mosaics 

' I am going to build a great Basilica of Hercules at ^^ 
Ravenna, for I wish my age to match preceding ones venna. 

1 ' Nee aliqua probatur appellatione suspensa.' 
L 2 


Cassiodori Variae. 

in the beauty of its buildings, as it does in the happiness 
of the lives of my subjects. 

' Send me therefore skilful workers in Mosaic ' [of 
which kind of work we have a very good description 
as follows]. 

(Cassiodorus on Mosaic). 

( Send us from your city some of your most skilful 
marble-workers, who may join together those pieces 
which have been exquisitely divided, and, connecting 
together their different veins of colour, may admirably 
represent the natural appearance l . From Art proceeds 
this gift, which conquers Nature. And thus the dis- 
coloured surface of the marble is woven into the love- 
liest variety of pictures ; the value of the work, now 
as always, being increased by the minute labour which 
has to be expended on the production of the Beautiful.' 

The in- 



This letter will be best understood by a reference to 
the following pedigree : 



FELIX = A daughter. 

[a spendthrift]. 

[a minor, whose 
guardian is 

Apparently Felix is accused by Venantius, the guar- 
f n ^ s voun g brother-in-law Plutianus, of having, 
on behalf of his wife, made an unfair division of the 
family property (which had been originally given to 
the father of these lads by Theodoric, as a reward for 
his services). In doing this he has availed himself of 
the spendthrift character of Neotherius, the elder brother, 
who was probably already of age. 

Felix is severely blamed, and ordered to hand over 

1 * Et venis colludentibus illigata naturalem faciem laudabiliter menti- 



Book I. Letters 7-9. 149 

what he has fraudulently appropriated to the official, 
who is charged with the execution of this mandate. 

Both are summoned to the ' Comitatus ' of the King, 
that a fair division may there be made between them. 


In reference to this same matter of the wasted The pro- 
property of Plutianus. It appears from this letter that of g Neo- 
Neotherius has been not merely a spendthrift, but has therius. 
been actuated by motives of passionate hatred to his 
younger brother l . The King enlarges on his obligation 
to protect the weak, and orders the officer to see that 
justice is done according to the representations of Ve- 
nantius, unless the other side have any counter plea 
to allege, in which case ' ad nostrum venire deproperet 


' You will be glad to hear that we are satisfied that offences 
the Bishop of Augusta [Turin or Aosta] has been falsely 
accused of betrayal of his country. He is therefore to 
be restored to his previous rank. His accusers, as they 
are themselves of the clerical order, are not punished by 
us, but sent to your Holiness to be dealt with accord- 

g to the ecclesiastical tradition.' 

[The reflections in this letter about the impropriety 
of believing readily accusations against a Bishop 2 , and 
the course adopted of handing over the clerical false 
accusers to be dealt with by their Bishop, have an 

1 ' Neotherium fratrem suum, affectum gernianitatis oblitum, bona par- 
vuli hostili furore lacerasse? 

2 'Nihil enim in tali honore temeraria cogitatione praesumendum est, 
ubi si proposito creditur, etiam tacitus ab excessibus excusatur. Mani- 
festa proinde crimina in talibus vix capiunt fidem. Quidquid autem ex 
invidia dicitur, veritas non putatur.' 

150 Cassiodori Variae. 

obvious bearing on the great Hildebrandic controversy. 
But as Dahn (' Konige der Gefmanen' iii. 191) points 
out, there is no abandonment by the King of the 
ultimate right to punish an ecclesiastic.] 


Frauds The Horse and Foot Guards 2 seem to have coin- 
money- plained that after their severe labours they were not 
ers * paid in solidi of full weight by the ' Arcarius Praefec- 

Cassiodorus gives 

(1) Some sublime reflections in the true Cassiodorian 
vein on the nature of Arithmetic, by which earth and 
the heavens are ruled. 

(2) Some excellent practical remarks on the wicked- 
ness of clipping and depreciating the currency. 

The most interesting but most puzzling sentence in 
this letter is that in which he says that * the ancients 
wished that the solidus should consist of 6,000 denarii, 
in order that the golden coin like a golden sun might 
represent the 6,000 years which are the appointed age 
of the world.' But how can we reconcile this with any 
known solidus or any known denarius? The solidus 
of Constantine (72 to the Ib.) was worth about twelve 
shillings. The reduced denarius of Diocletian was pro- 
bably worth one penny. At the very lowest (and 
most improbable) computation it was worth at least 
a farthing, and even thus one would only get 576 to a 
solidus. The earlier denarius, worth about eightpence, 
clearly will not do ; and the matter is made more difficult 
by the fact that Cassiodorus is talking about the an- 

1 If the MSS. are correctly represented in the printed editions, the 
name of the author of the Consolation of Philosophy was spelt Boetius 
in the Variae. There can be little doubt however that Boethius is the 
more correct form, and this is the form given us in the Anecdoton Holderi. 

3 Why are these called ' Domestic! patres equitum et peditum ? ' 

Book I. Letters 10-12. 151 

cients (veteres), whereas the solidus was a comparatively 
modern coin. It seems that either Cassiodorus has 
some entirely wrong information as to the early cur- 
rency of Rome, or else that we have not yet got the 
clue to his meaning. 

This passage is quoted by Finlay ( ' Greece under the 
Romans,' p. 536, ed. 1857), but the difficulty is not 
removed by his remarks. 


* It is your duty to repress all violence and injustice Violence 
in the Provinces over which you preside. Maniarius 
complains that his slaves (mancipia) have been with- 
out any cause taken away from him by the Breones 
[a Raetian tribe dwelling near the pass of the Brenner], 
who are continuing in peace the habits and maxims of 

' If this proves to be a true complaint, see that justice 
is done, and speedily.' 



' It is the glory of our reign to confer office on those Bestowal 
who deserve it. ? 

'You are a learned man, and arrived long ago at the terOffici- 
dignity of the Quaestorship as a reward for your credit- OI 
able exertions as an Advocate. 

' One office leads to another : the tree of the fasces puts 
forth fresh fasces ; and we therefore have great pleasure 
in calling you now to the dignity of Magister, bestow- 
ing upon you all the privileges which have belonged 
to your predecessors in that office. Justify our choice ' 
by your actions. You know, as one of our counsellors, 

1 Perhaps the name really was Eugenes, -etis. See Var. viii. 19, and 
Ennodii, Epist. iv. 26. 

152 C>.i**l<:.lvri Varlae. 

what our standard of righteousness is. A sort of re- 
ligions holiness is required from those who hold office 
under a righteous 


On the Announces the elevation of Eugenius (or Eugenites) 
to the post of Master of the Offices, and recapitulates 
his past services and character in nearly the same 
terms as the preceding letter. He is to go from one 
office to another, 'even as the sun having shone one 
day, rises in order to shine again on another. Even 
horses are stimulated to greater speed by the shouts 
of men. But man is an animal peculiarly fond of 
approbation. Do you therefore stimulate the new 
Master to all noble deeds.' 

[Notice this sentence about the Senate : * Whatever is 
the flower of the human race, the Senate ought to 
possess it: and as the citadel is the crown of the city, 
so should your order be the ornament of all other 


CoUec- 'We have no objection to grant the petition of the 
inhabitants of Cathalia(?), that their "Tertiae" shall 
be collected at the same time as the ordinary tribute. 
What does it matter under what name the " possessor " 
pays his contribution, so long as he pays it without 
deduction? Thus they will get rid of the suspected 
name of " Tertiae," and our mildness will not be worried 
by their importunity/ 

[See Dahn ('Konige der Germanen' iiL 143), who 
decides that the 'Tertiae' was the pecuniary equiva- 
lent paid by the Roman possessor for that portion of 

; Pio principi sob qoodam aeodotio wrvmtor.* C CUudian, 
quam libertas gratior entafc qoam 4 rege pio. 1 

Book /. Letters 13-17. 153 

the Sors Barbarica (the Gothic third of the lands of 
Italy) which, for convenience sake, was left in the actual 
occupation of Romans.] 


' We are glad to see that our good opinion of you Looking 
is shared by your neighbours, and that the Patrician ^terett! 
Agnellus, going to Africa on our business, has chosen of the 
you to defend his interests in his absence. No one absent * 
can give a higher proof of confidence than this. Look 
well after the trust committed to you. There seems 
to be a peculiar temptation to neglect the interests of 
the absent.' 

MONII [probably 508]. 

1 It is an excellent investment to do a generous thing Remis- 
to our subjects. The Apulian " Conductores " [farmers of 

the Royal domain] have represented to us with tears Hostile 
that their crops have been burned by hostile invaders 8 i ons . 
[Byzantines?]. We therefore authorise you to deduct 
at the next Indiction what shall seem the right pro- 
portion for these losses from the amount due to us 1 . 
See, however, that our revenue sustains no unnecessary 
loss. We are touched by the losses of the suppliants, 
but we ought on the other hand to share their profits.' 


'We have decided that the camp near you shall at once 
be fortified. It is expedient to execute works of this camp 
kind in peace rather than in war. Dertona. 

1 'Ut quantum eos minus vendidisse constiterit, de reliquis primae 
indictionis habita moderatione detrahatis.' 

> . 

J^ tl ^ ca " &rJ* 
^ V^ 

154 Cassiodori Variae. 

' The true meaning of expedvtio shows that the leader 
of a military expedition should have an unencumbered 

* Do you therefore second our efforts by building good 
private houses, in which you will be sheltered, while the 
enemy (whenever he comes) will be in the worst pos- 
sible quarters 1 , and exposed to all the severity of the 


Statute 'It is right that you, who are administering justice to 
tations!" ^ e na ^ ons 5 should learn and practise it yourselves. We 
therefore hasten to reply to the question which you 
have asked [concerning the length of time that is re- 
quired to bestow a title b^ prescription]. If any Bar- 
barian usurper have taken possession of a Roman farm 
since the time when we, through God's grace, crossed 
the streams of the Isonzo, when first the Empire of 
Italy received us 2 5 and if he have no documents of title 
[sine delegatoris cujusquam pyctacio] to show that he is I 
the rightful holder, then let him without delay restore I 
the property to its former owner. But if he shall be 
found to have entered upon the property before the 
aforesaid time, since the principle of the thirty years' 
prescription comes in, we order that the petition of the 
plaintiff shall be dropped. 

Crimes of ' The assailant, as well as the murderer, of his brother, 
lce ' is to be driven forth from the kingdom, that the serenity 
of our Commonwealth may not be troubled with any 
such dark spots.' 

[Theodoric crossed the Isonzo, August, 489, and as I 
understand this letter, it was written somewhere about 
518, and he therefore lays down a convenient practical 

1 ' Durissimae mansiones.' 

2 'Ex quo, Deo propitio, Sonti fluenta transmisimus ubi priraum Italiae 
nos suscepit imperium.' 

Book I. Letters 18-20. 155 

rule: 'No dispossession which occurred before I crossed 
the Isonzo shall be enquired into ; any which have, hap- 
pened since, may.' But the letter is a very difficult one, 
and I am bound to say that Dahn's interpretation 
('Konige der Germanen' iii. n, 13) does not agree with 


' The Fiscus is to have its rights, but we do not wish to The 
oppress our people. Let moderation be observed in all J^F 1 ^ 8 
things. Fiscus. 

* When you receive the petition of the Curiales of 
Adriana, if anyone who is able to pay, stubbornly and 
impudently refuses to contribute to the Fiscus Gothorum, 
you are to compel him to do so. But let off the really 
poor man who is unable to contribute.' 


' Notwithstanding our greater cares for the Republic, Circus 
we are willing to provide also for the amusement of our ^^ ls * 
subjects. For it is the strongest possible proof of the age of the 
success of our labours that the multitude knows itself to 


be again at leisure l . between 

' The petition of the Green party in the circus informs di us and 
us that they are oppressed, and that the factions of Theodo " 
the circus are fatal to public tranquillity. We there- 
fore order you to assume the patronage of the Green 
party, which our father of glorious memory paid for 2 . 

1 ' Illud enim, propitiante Deo, labores nostros asserit quod se otiosam 
generalitas esse cognoscit.' 

2 ' Quapropter illustris magnitude vestra praesenti jussione commonita, 
patrocinium partis Prasini, quod gloriosae recordationis pater noster im- 
pendit, dignanter assumat.' This passage probably alludes to Theodoric's 
adoption by Zeno. But one reading is ' pater vesterS 

156 Cassiodori Variae. 

So let the spectators be assembled, and let them choose 
between Helladius and Theodorus which is fittest to be 
Pantomimist of the Greens, whose salary we will pay.' 
Then follows a digression on pantomimes. 


Embel- ' If the people of Home will beautify their City we will 

Sit MP them. 

'Institute a strict audit (of which no one need be 
ashamed) of the money given by us to the different work- 
men for the beautification of the City. See that we are 
receiving money's worth for the money spent. If there 
is embezzlement anywhere, cause the funds so embezzled 
to be disgorged. We expect the Romans to help from 
their own resources in this patriotic work, and certainly 
not to intercept our contributions for the purpose. 

* The wandering birds love their own nests ; the beasts 
haste to their own lodgings in the brake ; the voluptuous 
fish, roaming the fields of ocean, returns to its own well- 
known cavern. How much more should Rome be loved 
by her children ! ' 


Promo- After some rather vapid praise of the eloquence and 

Marcel d qualities of Marcellus, Theodoric promotes him 

lus. from the rank of a Private Advocate to that of an 

Advocatus Fisci, and gives him some excellent counsels 

about not pressing the claims of the Crown too far. 

* We shall not enquire how many causes you have gained, 

but how you have gained them. Let there sometimes be 

a bad cause for the Fiscus, that the Sovereign may be 

seen to be good.' 

Book I. Letters 21-24. 157 


' The concord and harmony of subjects redound to the 
praise of their prince. between 

' We desire that Festus and Symmachus (Patricians Senators. 
and Magnifici) should prosecute the causes for action 
which they say they have against Paulinus (Illustris 
and Patrician) in your Court. Let Paulinus bring before 
you any counter-claim which he may assert himself 
to possess. Let justice be rendered speedily. Show 
yourselves worthy of this high trust. It is a matter 
of great moment to end lawsuits between men of such 
eminence in the State as these.' 


c To the Goths a hint of war rather than persuasion to A call 
the strife is needed, since a warlike race such as ours 

delights to prove its courage. In truth, he shuns no invasion 
labour who hungers for the renown of valour. Therefore 
with the help of God, whose blessing alone brings pros- 
perity, we design to send our army to the Gauls for the 
common benefit of all, that you may have an opportunity 
of promotion, and we the power of testing your merits ; 
for in time of peace the courage which we admire lies 
hidden, and when men have no chance of showing what 
is in them, their relative merits are concealed. We have 
therefore given our Sajo 1 , Nandius, instructions to warn 
you that, on the eighth day before the kalends of next July, 
you move forward to the campaign in the name of God, 
sufficiently equipped, accordingjo your old custom, with 
horses, arms, and every requisite for war. Thus will ye ' 
at the same time show that the old valour of your sires 
yet dwells in your hearts, and also successfully perform 

1 See for the office of the Sajo, note on ii. 13. 

158 Cassiodori Variae. * 

your King's command. Bring forth your young men for 
the discipline of Mars. Let them see you do deeds which 
they may love to tell of to their children. For an art 
not learned in youth is an art missing in our riper 
years. The very hawk, whose food is plunder, thrusts 
her still weak and tender young ones out of the nest, 
that they may not become accustomed to soft repose. 
She strikes the lingerers with her wings ; she forces her 
callow young to fly, that they may prove to be such in 
the future as her maternal fondness can be proud of. Do 
you therefore, lofty by nature, and stimulated yet more 
by the love of fame, study to leave such sons behind 
you as your fathers have left in leaving you.' 

[We can hardly be wrong in referring this stirring 
proclamation to the year 508, when Theodoric sent 
troops into Gaul to save the remnants of the Visigothic 
Monarchy from the grasp of Clovis. The first sentence 
recalls the expression 'certaminis gaudia,' which Jor- 
danes no doubt borrowed from Cassiodorus. For the 
simile at the end of the letter, cf. Deuteronomy xxxii. 
n, 'As an eagle stirreth up her nest'.] 


Kepairof 'It is important to preserve as well as to create. 

of Kome. 8 We are earnestly anxious to keep the walls of Home in 
good repair, and have therefore ordered the Lucrine 
port 1 to furnish 25,000 tiles annually for this purpose. 
See that this is done, that the cavities which have been 
formed by the fall of stones may be roofed over with 
tiles, and so preserved, and that thus we may deserve 
the thanks of ancient kings, to whose works we hav< 
given immortal youth.' 

1 I presume that ' portum Lucini ' is an error for the Lucrine harbour ; 
but there is an allusion which I do not understand in the following passage : 
' Simul etiam portubus junctis, qui ad ilia loca antiquitus pertinebant, et 
nunc diversorum usurpatione suggeruntur invasi?' 

Book I. Letters 25-27. 159 


In the time of Cassiodorus the Patrician (a man of I 
tried integrity and pure fidelity 1 ), a grant of freedom 
from taxation 2 was made to the Church of Vercelli. Since property 
that time other property has been conveyed to the same taxation. 
Church, apparently by a soldier. An attempt is made 
to represent this after-acquired property as also tax- 
free. ' No,' says the King. * It would be very wrong in 
us to recall our gift ; but it is equally wrong in you to 
try to stretch it to something which it never included. 
Private persons must not make grants to the injury of 
our treasury. Tribute belongs to the purple, not to the 
military cloak 3 . Your newly acquired possessions must 
pay taxes along with those of other owners.' 


* If we are moderating under our laws the character Circus 
of foreign nations, if the Roman law is supreme over all quarre s * 
that is in alliance with Italy, how much more doth it 
become 4he Senate of the seat of civilisation itself to 

have a surpassing reverence for law, that by the example 
of their moderation the beauty of their dignities may 
shine forth more eminently. For where shall we look 
for moderation, if violence stains Patricians? The 
Green party complain that they have been truculently 
assaulted by the Patrician Theodoric and the " Illustris 
and Consul Importunus," and that one life has been lost 
in the fray. We wish the matter to be at once brought 
before the Illustres Coelianus and Agapitus and examined 
into by them 4 . 

'As to their counter-complaints of rudeness against 
the mob, you must distinguish between deliberate inso- 

1 This is evidently the writer's father. 

2 * Onera indictorum titulorum.' 

3 ' Tributa sunt purpurae, non lacernae.' 

* See i. 23, from which it appears that these two men had special juris- 
diction in cases affecting Patricians. 

160 Cassiodori Variae. 

lence and the licence of the theatre. Who expects 
seriousness of character at the spectacles? It is not 
exactly a congregation of Catos that comes together at 
the circus. The place excuses some excesses. And besides, 
it is the beaten party which vents its rage in insulting 
cries. Do not let the Patricians complain of clamour 
that is really the result of a victory for their own side, 
which they greatly desired.' 

[The mention of 'the Patrician Theodoric' is a diffi- 
culty, as we know of no namesake of the King among 
the Koman nobility. Perhaps we ought to read (with 
the Eemensian MS.) 'Theodoro,' as we know from 'Anon. 
Valesii' 68 that there was a Theodorus, son of Basilius, 
who perhaps succeeded Liberius, Praef. Praetorio.] 


The ' Most worthy of Royal attention is the rebuilding of 

Rome f anc i ent cities, an adornment in time of peace, a precau- 
tion for time of war. 

' Therefore, if anyone have in his fields stones suitable 
for the building of the walls, let him cheerfully and 
promptly produce them. Even though he should be 
paid at a low rate, he will have his reward as a member 
of the community, which will benefit thereby.' 



The ' The post (Cursus Publicus) is evidently an institution 

Service. ^ g rea t public utility, tending to the rapid promulga- 
tion of our decrees. 

' Care must therefore be taken that the horses are not 
allowed to get out of condition, lest they break down 
under their work, and lest the journey, which should be 
rapid, become tediously slow. 

'Also any lands formerly appropriated to the muta- 

Book I. Letters 2, 8-31. 161 

tiones [places for changing horses] which have fallen into 
private hands must be reclaimed for the public service, 
the owners being sufficiently indemnified for their loss.' 


The Senators are exhorted not to allow their menials On the 
to embroil themselves with the populace, and thus bring 
their good name into disgrace. Any slave accused of peace 
the murder of a free-born citizen is to be at once given 

up, under penalty of a fine of lolbs. of gold (j^4Oo) 5 Ci 
and the King's severe displeasure for the master who 
disobeys this command. 

' And do not you, oh Senators, be too severe in mark- 
ing every idle word which the mob may utter amidst 
the general rejoicing. If there is any insult which 
requires notice, bring it before the "Praefectus Urbis"- 
a far better and safer course than taking the law into 
your own hands.' 

[This letter, a very interesting and sensible one, is 
somewhat spoilt by a characteristic Cassiodorian sentence 
at the end : 

' Men in old time used always to fight with their fists, 
whence the word pugna, " a pugnis." Afterwards iron 
was introduced by King Belus, and hence came bellum, 



Gives similar good advice to that contained in the On the 
previous letter to the Senate. subject. 

* The Circus, in which the King spends so much money, 
is meant to be for public delight, not for stirring up 
wrath. Instead of uttering howls and insults like other 
nations [the populace of Byzantium'?], whom they have 
despised for doing so, let them tune their voices, so that 


162 Cassiodori Variae. 

their applause shall sound like -the notes of some vast 
organ, and even the brute creation delight to hear it. 

'Anyone uttering outrageous reproaches against any 
Senator will be dealt with by the Praefectus Urbis.' 


On the ' The ruler of the city ought to keep the peace, and 
subject J us tify mv choice of him. Your highest praise is a quiet 

* We have issued our " oracles " to the " amplissimus ordo " 
(Senate) and to the people, that the custom of insulting 
persons in the Circus is to be put under some restraint ; 
on the other hand, any Senator who shall be provoked 
to kill a free-born person shall pay a fine. The games 
are meant to make people happy, not to stir them up to 
deadly rage. Helladius 1 is to come forth into the midst 
and afford the people pleasure [as a pantomimist], and 
he is to receive his monthly allowance (menstruum) with 
the other actors of the Green Faction. His partisans 
are to be allowed to sit where they please.' 

[Was there not some division in the Green Faction 
itself concerning the merits of Helladius and his rival 


Arrange- ' Our Serenity is not going to change the arrangements 

thTpan^ which we have once made for the public good. We told 

tomime. Albinus and Albienus 2 to choose the most fitting person 

they could find as Pantomimist of the Greens. They 

have done so [choosing probably Helladius]. He shall 

have his monthly allowance, and let there be peace.' 

1 See Letter i. 20. 2 Ibid. 

Book I. Letters 32-35. 163 


' It should be only the surplus of the crops of any Only the 
Province, beyond what is needed for the supply of its ^^ 
own wants, that should be exported. Station persons in to be 
the harbours to see that foreign ships do not take away e2 
produce to foreign shores until the Public Providers 1 
have got all that they require.' 


1 This extraordinarily dry season having ruined the Unrea- 
hopes of our harvest, it is more than ever necessary that 

the produce should be brought forward promptly. We The 
are therefore exceedingly annoyed at finding that the ^h u 
crops which are generally sent forward by your Chan- 
cellor from the coasts of Calabria and Apulia in summer 
have not yet arrived, though it is near autumn and the 
time is at hand when the sun, entering the southern signs 
(which are all named from showers), will send us storm 
and tempest. 

* What are you waiting for ? Why are your ships not 
spreading their sails to the breeze ? With a favourable 
wind and with bending oarsmen, are you perhaps delayed 
by the echeneis (Remora, or sucking-fish) ? or by the shell- 
fish of the Indian Ocean? or by the torpedo, whose 
touch paralyses the hand? No; the echeneis in this 
case is entangling venality ; the bites of the shell-fish, 
insatiable avarice ; the torpedo, fraudulent pretence. 

* The merchants are making delays in order that they 
may seem to have fallen on adverse weather. 

* Let your Magnitude put all this to rights promptly, 
otherwise our famine will be imputed, not to bad seasons, 
but to negligence 2 .' 

1 'Expensae publicae' perhaps = curatores annonae. 

2 For a fuller translation of this marvellous letter, see Introd. p. 1 8. 

M 3 

164. Cassiodori Variae. 


you to take the place of the late Benedictus 

uiansmp . 

of chil- in the city of Pedon. 

Bene f ' ^ s WQ never f r g e t the services of the dead, we wish 
dictus. you to undertake officially the guardianship of the sons 
of the said Benedictus. 

'We always pay back to our faithful servants more 
than we have received from them, and thus we do 
not go on the principle "equality is equity," because 
we think it just to make them more than an equal re- 


Justi- 'Murder is abominable, but it is right to take into 
homicide, account the circumstances which may have provoked 
to homicide. If the slain man was trying to violate 
the rights of wedlock, his blood be on his own head. 
For even brute beasts vindicate their conjugal rights 
by force : how much more man, who is so deeply dis- 
honoured by the adult.erer ! 

* Therefore, if it be true that the man whom you slew 
had wronged you as a husband, we do not agree to the 
punishment of exile which has been inflicted upon you. 
Nor will we uphold the action of the Vicarius or of 
his Officiuwi, who, as you say, have impounded the 
money paid by your fidei-jussor (guarantor) Agnellus. 
Also, we will protect you against the hostile assaults of 
Candax [next of kin to the murdered man ?] in future. 
But your allegation as to the provocation must be fully 
established by legal process.' 

[It may be remarked that Candac, King of the Alani 
in Moesia, is mentioned in the pedigree of Jordanes 
(' Getica,' cap. 4).] 

Book I. Letters 36-39. 165 


' We are told that you are keeping in your own The 
hands the administration of the property of your g^ g 
young nephew [or grandson] Hilarius against his will, rius to 
and not for his good, but yours. Restore it at once. i e w a e( i to 
Let him dispose of it as he likes. He seems to be enter on 
quite able to enter upon the lordship of his own. siwTof 
The eagle feeds her callow young with food which hl e t pro " 
she has procured for them, till their wings grow. 
Then, when their flight is strong and their nails 
sharp, she trains them to strike their own prey. So 
with our young Goths: when they are fit for soldier- 
ship we cannot bear that they should be deemed 
incapable of managing their own concerns. "To the 
Goths valour makes full age. And he who is strong 
enough to stab his enemy to the heart should be al- 
lowed to vindicate himself from every accusation of 
incapacity." ' 

[Notwithstanding his Roman name, Hilarius is evi- 
dently a Goth]. 


' We are always delighted to grant just requests. The ne- 

' Filagrius (Vir Spectabilis), who has been long absent 

from his home on our business, seeks to return to Syra- to be 
cuse, but at the same time asks that his brother's sons i n R me. 
may be kept for their education's sake at Rome. Do you 
attend to this petition, and do not let the lads go till we 
send you a second order to that effect. No one ought to . 
murmur at being detained in Rome, which is every- 

1 See remarks on this letter in Dahn, Konige der Germanen iv. 147-8- 
Some MSS. read Coion or Goinon, as the name of the Senator to whom 
it is addressed. 

166 Cassiodori Variae. 

one's country, the fruitful mother of eloquence, the 
wide temple of all virtues. Ulysses would very likely 
never have become famous if he had lingered on at 
home ; but Homer's noble poem most chiefly proclaims 
his wisdom in this fact, that he roamed among many 
cities and nations.' 


The in- ' "War needs rehearsal and preparation. Therefore let 
of Saiona y our Ulustrious Sublimity provide the inhabitants of 
to be Salona with arms, and let them practise themselves in 

the use of them ; for the surest safeguard of the Republic 

is an armed defender.' 

The necessity of drill and practice is shown by the 

early combats of bullocks, the play -huntings of puppies, 

the necessity of first kindling a fire with very little 

sticks, and so forth. 


Enqui- ' The dignity of the Senate makes it necessary to be 
<&arac- unusually careful who is admitted into that body. Let 
ter of the other orders receive middling men : the Senate must 
receive none but those who are of proved excellence. 

* Therefore let your Illustrious Magnificence cause those 
enquiries to be made concerning Faustus, the grown-up 
son of the Illustrious Faustus, which the Senate hath 
ordered to be made concerning all persons who are to 
be enrolled in its council 1 . In thus confirming and 
ratifying the proceedings of the Senate we are in no 
degree trenching on the accustomed authority of that 
sacred order.' 

Quae circa referendos curiae priscus ordo designavit.' 

Book I. Letters 40-43. 167 


AND PATBICIAN [509 OB 524]. 

' We are especially bound to reward merit. Every- Artemi- 
one who does us a service makes a very good invest- ^Pra^- 
ment. You have long had what was formerly con- feet of 
sidered more precious than great dignity near access 
to our person. Much as we loved you, we somewhat 
retarded your advance in order that you might be the 
more richly adorned with all virtues when you came 
to honour. Your birthplace, your lineage, your merit, 
all declare you worthy of the promotion which we now 
bestow upon you, declaring you for this third Indiction 1 
Praefectus Urbis. You will thus have the function 
of presiding over the Senate, a far higher office than 
that of ruling the Palace or arranging private houses. 
The value of the object committed to a person's care 
increases the dignity of the post. It is much more 
honourable to be caretaker of a diadem than of a 
wine-cellar. Judge of our esteem for you by the pre- 
ciousness of the body over which we are thus calling 
you to preside.' 



[Announcing the elevation of Artemidorus to the post Promo- 
of Praefectus Urbis.] Artemi- 

' Artemidorus, though entitled from his relationship 
to the Emperor Zeno to expect great promotion at the 
Court of Constantinople, has preferred to share the for- 
tunes and attach himself to the person of Theodoric, 
who has often been refreshed after the cares of State 
by an hour of his charming converse. Though he 
might have aspired to the highest dignities of the Court, 
he has hitherto been satisfied with the comparatively 
humble post of Superintendent of the Public Spectacles 

1 Either 509-510 or 524-525 ; more probably the former. 

168 Cassiodori Variae. 

[as Tribunus Voluptatum ?]. Now, as Praefectus Urbis, 
he is to preside over and become a member of your body. 
Welcome him.' 


On the [On the same subject as 42 and 43, the elevation of 

subject Artemidorus to the Urban Praefecture.] 

Rebukes the commonalty sharply for their recent dis- 
turbances, which defile with illicit seditions the blessings 
of peace, earned under God's blessing by their Prince. 
The newly-appointed Praefectus Urbanus, Artemidorus, 
long devoted to the service of Theodoric, will attest the 
innocence of the good, and sharply punish the errors of 
the bad, both by his own inherent prerogative and by 
a special commission entrusted to him for that purpose 
by the King. 


The 'It is important to oblige our royal neighbours even 

J**j^~ in trifles, for none can tell what great matters may be 
and sun- aided thereby. Often what arms cannot obtain the 
tinedfor on< i ces f kindness bring to pass. Thus let even our 
the Bur- unbending be for the benefit of the Republic. For our 
object in seeking pleasure is that we may thereby dis- 
charge the serious duties of life. 

* The Lord of the Burgundians has earnestly requested 
that we would send him a clock which is regulated by 
water flowing under a modulus, and one which is marked 
by embracing the illumination of the immense sun V 

1 An unintelligible translation doubtless, but is the original clearer? 
' Burgundionum dominus a nobis magnopere postulavit ut horologium 
quod aquis sub modulo fluentibus temperatur et quod solis immensi 
comprehensa illuminatione distinguitur . . . ei transmittere deberemus.' 
It is pretty clear that the first request of the Burgundian King was 
for a clepsydra of some kind. The second must be for some 'kind of 
sundial, but the description is very obscure. 

JBook I. Letters 44-45. 169 

[I transcribe, and do not attempt to translate, the fur- 
ther description of the two machines, the order of which 
is now changed.] 

' Primum sit, ubi stylus diei index, per umbram exi- 
guam horas consuevit ostendere. Kadius itaque immo- 
bilis, et parvus, peragens quod tarn miranda magnitudo 
solis discurrit, et fugam solis aequiparat quod modum 
semper ignorat. [This must be the sundial.] Invi- 
derent talibus, si astra sentirent: et meatum suum 
fortasse deflecterent, ne tali ludibrio subjacerent. Ubi 
est illud horarum de lumine venientium singulare mira- 
culum, si has et umbra demonstrat? Ubi praedicabilis 
indefecta roratio; si hoc et metalla peragunt, quae situ 
perpetuo continentur ? artis inaestimabilis virtus quae 
dum se dicit ludere, naturae praevalet secreta vulgare. 

' Secundum sit [the clepsydra] ubi praeter solis radios 
hora dignoscitur, noctes in partes dividens: quod ut 
nihil deberet astris, rationem coeli ad aquarum potius 
fluenta convertit, quorum motibus ostendit, quod coelum 
volvitur ; et audaci praesumptione concepta, ars elemen- 
tis confert quod originis conditio denegavit.' 

* It will be a great gain to us that the Burgundians 
should daily look upon something sent by us which 
will appear to them little short of miraculous. Exert 
yourself therefore, oh Boetius, to get this thing put in 
hand. You have thoroughly imbued yourself with Greek 
philosophy 1 . You have translated Pythagoras the mu- 
sician, Ptolemy the astronomer, Nicomachus the arith- 
metician, Euclid the geometer, Plato the theologian, 
Aristotle the logician, and have given back the mecha- 
nician Archimedes to his own Sicilian countrymen (who 
now speak Latin). You know the whole science of Ma- 
thematics, and the marvels wrought thereby. A machine 
[perhaps something like a modern orrery] has been 

1 Evidently ' sic enim Atheniensium scholas longe positus introisti ' 
does not mean -that Boethius actually visited Athens, but that he became 
thoroughly at home in the works of Athenian philosophers. 

170 Cassiodori Variae. 

made to exhibit the courses of the planets and the 
causes of eclipses. What a wonderful art is Mechanics ! 
The mechanician, if we may say so, is almost Nature's 
comrade, opening her secrets, changing her manifesta- 
tions, sporting with miracles, feigning so beautifully, 
that what we know to be an illusion is accepted by 
us as truth.' 



On the Sends the two clocks, or rather perhaps the celestial 

subject, globe and the water-clock. 

' Have therefore in your country what you have 
often seen in Rome. It is right that we should 
send you presents, because you are connected with 
us by affinity. It is said that under you "Bur- 
gundia" looks into the most subtle things, and praises 
the discoveries of the ancients. Through you she 
lays aside her "Gentile" (barbarous) nature, and imi- 
tating the prudence of her King, rightly desires to 
possess the inventions of sages. Let her arrange her 
daily actions by the movements of God's great lights ; 
let her nicely adjust the moments 6f each hour. In 
mere confusion passes the order of life when this ac- 
curate division of time is unknown. Men are like the 
beasts, if they only know the passage of the hours by 
the pangs of hunger, and have no greater certainty as 
to the flight of time than such as is afforded them by 
their bellies. For certainty is undoubtedly meant to 
be entwined in human actions.' 



EMPEKOE. A.D. 511. 

' By excellent ordinance of the ancients the year is Consul- 
named from the Consul. Let the happy year take its ^ x f 
title from our new Consul, Felix [Consul with Secun- 
dinus, A.D. 51 1 1 ]. 

'It is most suitable that Rome should gather back 
her children to her bosom, and in her venerable Senate 
should enrol a son of Gaul. 

'Felix showed his excellent disposition first in this, 
that while still a young man he hastened to " the native 
land of all the virtues" [Rome]. Success followed his 
choice; we promoted him as he deserved. While still 
a young man, deprived of his father's care, he showed 
the rare gift of continence ; he subdued avarice, the 
enemy of wisdom ; he despised the blandishments of 
vice ; he trampled under foot the vanities of pride." 

' We have now determined to reward him with the 
Consulship. Do you who can with indiscriminate 
pleasure rejoice in both the blessings of the Republic 
[in the Consuls of the East and West] join your favour- 
ing vote. He who is worthy of so high an office as 

1 * Portamque dierum tali nomine dicatus annus, tempus introeat.' The 
figure here used seems borrowed from Claudian, In Primum Cons. Stili- 
chonis ii. 425-476. 

Cassiodorl Variae. 

the Consulship may well be chosen by the judgment 
of both ' [Emperor and King]. 

[An important letter, as showing the extent to which 
concurrent choice of Consuls was vested in Rome, or 
rather Ravenna, and Constantinople.] 


On the An address on his elevation to the Consulship, touch- 
subject * n on near ly the same topics as the preceding. 

Theodoric delights in bestowing larger favours on 
those whom he has once honoured [a favourite topic 
with Cassiodorus]. 

Felix has come back from Gaul to the old fatherland 1 . 
Thus the Consulship has returned to a Transalpine 
family, and green laurels are seen on a brown stock. 

Felix has shown an early maturity of character. 
He has made a wise use of his father's wealth. The 
honour which other men often acquire by prodigality 
he has acquired by saving. Cassiodorus evidently has 
a little fear that the new Consul may carry his par- 
simony too far, and tells him that this office of the 
Consulship is one in which liberality, almost extrava- 
gance, earns praise 2 ; in which it is a kind of virtue 
not to love one's own possessions ; and in which one 
gains in good opinion all that one loses in wealth. 

' See the sacred City all white with your vota ("?). 
See yourself borne upon the shoulders of all, and 
your name flitting through their mouths, and manifest 
yourself such that you may be deemed worthy of your 
race, worthy of the City, worthy of our choice, worthy 
of the Consular trabea.' 

[The letter makes one suspect a certain narrowness 
and coldness of heart in the subject of its praise.] 

1 ' Cum soli genitalis fortunfl relicta, velut quodam postliminio in anti- 
quam patriam Qommeasses.' 

2 ' Ubi praeconium meretur effusio.' 

Book II. Letters 2-5. 173 


Recommends Felix for the Consulship, going over On the 
again the topics mentioned in the two last letters. It 
appears that it was the father of Felix who emerged, 
after a temporary eclipse of the family fortunes, and 
then showed himself ' the Cato of our times, abstaining 
from vice himself, and forming the characters of others ; 
imbued also with all Greek philosophy, he glutted 
himself with the honey of the Cecropian doctrine.' 

Mention is made of the Consulship of an earlier Felix, 
A.D. 428, the happy renown of which still lingered in 
the memories of men. 

The young Felix is praised for the qualities de- 
scribed in the two previous letters, and also for his 
power of conciliating the friendship of older men, 
especially the excellent Patrician Paulinus. 


{ We wish always to observe long-established rules Collec- 
in fiscal matters, the best guarantee against extortion. 
Therefore, whatever dues in the way of Siliquaticum cum. 
appertained to Antiochus are now transferred to you 
by the present authority, and the Sajo is charged to 
support your claims herein ; only the contention must 
not be mixed up with any private matters of your own.' 

[The Siliquaticum was a tax of one twenty-fourth 
the siliqua being the twenty-fourth of a solidus 
payable on all sales in market overt by buyer and seller 


'We are always generous, and sometimes out of Soldiers' 
clemency we bestow our gifts on persons who have no ar 

174 Cassiodori Variae. 

claim upon us. How much more fitting is it then that the 
servants of the State should receive our gifts promptly! 
Wherefore, pray let your Magnificence see to it that the 
sixty soldiers who are keeping guard in the fastnesses of 
Aosta receive their annonae without delay. Think what 
a life of hardship the soldier leads in those frontier forts 
for the general peace, thus, as at the gate of the Province, 
, shutting out the entry of the barbarous nations. He 
must be ever on the alert who seeks to keep out the 
Barbarians. For fear alone checks these men, whom 
honour will not keep back.' 

[A singular letter to write in the name of one who was 
himself a Barbarian invader.] 


Embassy ' We have decided to send you on an embassy to the 

stantino- -East (Constantinople). Every embassy requires a prudent 

P le - man, but here there is need of especial prudence, because 

you will have to dispute against the most subtle persons 

artificers of words, who think they can foresee every 

possible answer to their arguments. Do your best 

therefore to justify the opinion which I formed of you 

before full trial of your powers.' 


Embel- Let nothing lie useless which may redound to the 
of the beauty of the City. Let your Illustrious Magnificence 
Clt 7- therefore cause the blocks of marble which are every- 
where lying about in ruins to be wrought up into the 
walls by the hands of the workmen whom I send 
herewith. Only take care to use only those stones 
which have really fallen from public buildings, as 
we do not wish to appropriate private property, even 
for the glorification of the City.' 

Book II. Letters 6-10. 175 



' None is more suitable than a member of the Priest- Compen- 
hood to perform acts of justice towards his flock. damage 03 

' We therefore send your Holiness, by Montanarius, done by 
1,500 solidi (,900), for distribution among the Pro- 
vincials, according to the amount of damage which 
each one has sustained this year by the passage of our 
army. See that the distribution is made systematically 
not at random so that it may reach the right persons.' 


c We always enjoy being generous. Compassion is the Allow- 

one virtue to which all other virtues may honourably a retired , 
give way. Long ago we made the charioteer Sabinus chariot- < 
a monthly allowance of a solidus [twelve shillings]. Now, 
as we learn from Histrius [or Historius] that this former 
servant of the public pleasures is afflicted with the 
most melancholy poverty, we have pleasure in adding 
another solidus to his monthly allowance. We are never 
so well pleased as when the accounts of our expenditure 
show these items of charitable disbursement.' 


' The laws guarding the sanctity of the marriage bed l The ab- 

p n i_ u ductionof 

must be carefully upheld. Agapita. 

' Agapita 2 has explained to us that she was tempted 
away from her husband by seducers, who promised to 
procure his death. From the time of her leaving his 
company let all revenues which came to her under 

1 ' Illud Human! generis procreabile Sacrameutum.' 

2 ' Foemina spectabilis.' 

176 Cassiodori Variae. 

the marriage contract (invalidated by her unfaithfulness) 
be given up by her wrongful detainers 1 without any 
delay. It is too absurd that men who ought to be 
severely punished for their wrong-doing should even 
seek to make a profit out of it.' 


Giffcob- [Refers to the same business of Agapita, who seems 
from to have been a woman of feeble intellect as well as an 
Agapita unfaithful wife.] The petition of her husband Basilius (vir 
undue Spectabilis) sets forth that, influenced by seducers, and 
influence. f rO m the levity so natural to woman, she for no good reason 
quitted her own home. Her own petition confirms this ; 
and she states that, while taking refuge within the 
precincts of the Church, she by deed of gift bestowed on 
Provinus the ' Casa Areciretina,' a most preposterous 
gift from a poor woman to a rich man ; from one whose 
reputation was gone to a chaste man ; from a half-crazy 
creature to one who knew fully what he was about. 
This gift Agapita [and Basilius] now seek to annul. 
Provinus is exhorted at once to throw up a possession 
which cannot possibly bring him any credit, and the loss 
of which has brought the poor woman to destitution. 
Alienation of property should be the act of a person 
having ' solidum judicium,' which this poor creature 
evidently had not, or she would not have left her hus- 
band causelessly. 

' This is the second time of writing. Let there be no 
further delay in complying.' 

[Probably, therefore, Probinus really is one of the 
1 Eetentatores ' referred to in Letter 10, though this letter 
does not distinctly identify him with them.] 

1 ' Eetentatores.' So the Gepid Prince is called the Eetentator of Sir- 
mium (Ennodius, Panegyric. Theod. 1 78. Ed. Migne). 

Book II. Letters 11-13. 


'Italy ought to enjoy her own products, and it is Prohi 
monstrous that anything which she produces should be 
wanting to her own children. lard. 

' Therefore let no lard be exported to foreign parts, but 
let it by God's grace be all kept for consumption at 

* Now take care not to incur the slightest blame in this 
matter. It is a very serious fault even in trifles to 
disobey orders. Sin consists in quality, not in quantity ; 
and injustice cannot be measured. A command, if it be 

despised in one part, is violated in the whole.' 


'We are always especially touched by the prayers of Dishonest 
petitioners who complain that they are forced to pay f v 
unjustly. Ulpianus in his lamentable petition informs tius. 
us that on the request of Venantius he bound himself as 
a guarantor (fidei jussionis vinculo) to pay over to the 
public Treasury at the time of his administration 400 
solidi (^240). With the presumption of a truculent 
rustic Venantius despised his own promise, and Ulpi- 
anus has therefore been burdened with payment of the 
money. We therefore order that Venantius, who has 
been accused of many other crimes besides this, shall 
be summoned before you, and if found to be legally 
liable, shall be at once, and sharply, compelled to fulfil 
his promise.' 

1 The Sajo was an officer, not of very high rank, apparently always of 
Gothic nationality, who was charged with executing the King's mandates. 
Perhaps our word ' henchman ' would be the best translation of his title. 
His conventional attribute was ' devotio.' See Dahn, ' Konige der Ger- 
manen' iii. 181-186, and my 'Italy and her Invaders' iii. 282-284. 


178 Cassiodori Variae. 


Romulus < Parricide is the most terrible and unnatural of crimes. 

ricldeT" Even the cubs of wild beasts follow their sires ; the 
offshoot of the vine serves the parent stem: shall man 
war against him who gave him being? It is for our 
little ones that we lay up wealth. Shall we not earn the 
love of those for whom we would willingly incur death 
itself ? The young stork, that harbinger of spring, gives 
a signal example of filial piety, warming and feeding its 
aged parents in the moulting season till they have reco- 
vered their strength, and thus repaying the good offices 
received in its earlier years. So too, when the partridge, 
which is wont to hatch the young of other birds, takes 
her adopted brood forth into the fields, if these hear the 
cry of their genuine mother they run to her, leaving 
the partridge forsaken. 

' Wherefore, if Romulus 1 have fouled the Roman name 
by laying violent hands on his father Martinus, we look 
to your justice (we chose you because we knew you 
would not spare the cruel) to inflict on him legitimate 


Promo- 'We always like to promote to office the sons oi 

Venan- distinguished fathers. We therefore bestow on you th( 

tiusto honour of Comes Domesticorum (Comitiva Vacans), in 

Domes- memory of your glorious father. He held at the sam( 

ticorum time the Praefecture [of Italy] and the command of tl 

army, so that neither the Provinces lacked his ordering, 

nor did his wise care for the army fail. All was mastered 

by his skilled and indefatigable prudence; he inclined 

the manners of the Barbarians to peace, and governed 

that all were satisfied with our rule. 

1 Quaere if named from the last Emperor. 

Book II. Letters 14-16. 179 

* You are a zealous student of literature, illustrious by 
birth and eloquent by education. Go on as you have 
begun, and show yourself worthy of our choice.' 


This letter adds a little to the information contained On the 
in the preceding one, as to the career of Liberius, father 
of Venantius. 

Liberius was a faithful servant of Odovacar, who Praises of 
adhered to his master to the last. 'He awaited in- Llbenus - 
corruptly the Divine judgments, nor did he allow 
himself to seek a new King till he had first lost his old 
one. On the overthrow of his lord he was bowed by no 
terror ; he bore unmoved the ruin of his Prince ; nor did 
the revolution, at which even the proud hearts of the 
Barbarians trembled 1 , avail to move him from his 

'Prudently did he follow the common fortunes, in 
order that while fixedly bearing the Divine judgments 
he might with the more approbation find the Divine 
favour. We approved the faith of the man ; he came over 
in sadness to our allegiance as one who being overcome 
changes his mind, not like one who has contrived 
[treacherously] that he should be conquered. We made 
him Praefectus Praetorio. He administered the finances 
admirably. By his economical management we felt 
the increased returns, while you knew nothing of added 

' We especially like to remember how in the assign- Appor- 
ment of the [Gothic] Thirds (in Tertiarum deputatione) 
he joined both the possessions and the hearts of Goths tiae ' 
and Romans alike. For whereas men are wont to come 
into collision on account of their being neighbours, with 
these men the common holding of their farms proved in 

1 ' Quam etiam ferocitas gentilis expavit.' 
N 2, 

180 Cassiodori Variae. 

practice a reason for concord. Thus it has happened that 
while the two nations have been living in common they 
have concurred in the same desires. Lo ! a new fact, and 
one wholly laudable. The friendship of the lords has been 
joined with the division of the soil; amity has grown 
out of the loss of the Provincials, and by the land a 
defender has been gained whose occupation of part 
guarantees the quiet enjoyment of the whole. One law 
includes them: one equal administration rules them: 
for it is necessary that sweet affection should grow 
between those who always keep the boundaries which 
have been allotted them. 

' All this the Roman Republic owes to Liberius, who 
to two such illustrious nations has imparted sentiments 
of mutual affection. See to it, Conscript Fathers, that 
his offspring does not go unrewarded.' 


'We do not wish to be generous at the expense of 
others, and we therefore declare that the Sors which in 
enjoyed our generosity we have bestowed on Butilianus the 
granted 8 Presbyter, is not to be reckoned in to the tax calcu- 
by the lations ; but as many solidi as are comprehended in that 
gift, so many are you to be relieved from, in the contri- 
bution of " Tertiae." ' 

[That is to say, the land given by the Gothic King to 
Butilian was to be itself, as a matter of course, free from 
Tertiae ; but, in order that this might not throw a heavier 
burden on the other owners in the district, they were to 
be allowed to deduct the solidi of that portion from the 
gross amount payable by them on behalf of the whole 
district. Butilian's own immunity from Tertiae seems 
to be taken for granted as a result of the King's gift 
to him. (See Dahn, ' Konige der Germanen' iii. 145-)] 

1 Cf. iii. 9 for a similar heading. 

Book II. Letters 17-19. 181 


An interesting but rather obscure letter on the con- Ecclesi- 
dition of Guriales. %L 

Apparently some ecclesiastics were claiming as slaves 
some men whom the Curia of Sarsena (?) asserted to be 
fellow-curials of their own, whom they therefore wanted 
to assist them in performing curial obligations. 

Cassiodorus argues that as the ' Sors nascendi ' pre- 
vented the Curialis from rising to the higher honours 
of the State, it certainly ought also to prevent him from 
sinking into slavery 1 . * Therefore we advise you to look 
well to your facts, and see whether these men are not 
justly claimed as Curials, in which case the Church should 
give them up before the matter comes to trial. It does 
not look well for the Bishop, who should be known as a 
lover of justice, to be publicly vanquished in a suit of 
this kind.' 

[Did the alleged Curials, in such a case, wish to have 
their curiality or their quasi-ecclesiastical character 
established ? Who can say ?] 


* We hate all crime, but domestic bloodshed and trea- Domestic 
chery most of all. Therefore we command you to act 
with the utmost severity of the law against the servants 
of Stephanus, who have killed their master and left him 
unburied. They might have learned pity even from 
birds. Even the vulture, who lives on the corpses of 
other creatures, protects little birds from the attacks of 

1 ' Quod si eos vel ad honores transire jura vetuerunt, quam videtur 
esse contrarium, Curialem Reipublicae, amissa turpiter libertate, servire ? 
et usque ad conditionem pervenisse postremam quern vocavit antiquitas 
Minorem Senatutn.' 

182 Cassiodori Variae. 

the hawk. Yet men are found cruel enough to slay him 
who has fed them. To the gallows with them ! Let him 
become the food of the pious vulture, who has cruelly 
contrived the death of his provider. That is the fit- 
ting sepulchre for the man who has left his lord un- 


'Let any provision-ships [sulcatorice T] which may 
8 j. n - be now lying at Ravenna be ordered round to Liguria 
follow (which in ordinary times supplies the needs of Ravenna 



ofTheo- 'Our presence and that of our Court (Comitatus) 
Court! attracts many spectators and petitioners to those parts, 
for whose maintenance an extra effort must be made.' 
[See Dahn, * Konige der Germanen ' iii. 282.] 


A con- ' The King has conceded to the Spectabiles Spes and 
toothnid Domitius a certain tract of land which was laid waste 
ly acted by wide and muddy streams, and which neither showed 
a pure expanse of water nor had preserved the come- 
liness of solid earth, for them to reclaim and cultivate. 

' The petition of the Adores of Spes sets forth that the 
operation is put in jeopardy by the ill-timed parsimony 
of Domitius, which throws back the labourers to th< 
point from which they set out at first 1 . Therefore 
Domitius be stirred up to finish his part of the work, 
if he thinks that too expensive, let him throw up his 

1 'Cum jam in soli faciem paulatim mollities siccata duresceret, ct 
tamque longa voracitate tellurem sol insuetus afflaret.' I cannot unde 
stand these words. I suppose there was a hard cake of clay left wh< 
the water was drained off, which was baked by the sun, and that thei 
should have been further digging to work through this stratum and 
at the good soil beneath ; but the wording is not very clear. 

Book II. Letters 20-24. 183 

share of the concession and allow his partner to work 
it out.' 

[We find in this letter a good motto for Theodoric'a 
reign : ' Nos quibus cordi est in melius cuncta mutare.'] 



c The sons of Ecdicius, whom at first we had ordered to Ecdicius 
reside in the city, are to be allowed to return to their ^ d 
own country in order to bury their father. That grief by his 
is insatiable which feels that it has been debarred from sons ' 
rendering the last offices to the dead. Think at what 
risk of his life Priam implored the raging Achilles to 
give him back the body of his son.' 

[Apparently the sons of Ecdicius, not Ecdicius himself, 
had fallen into disgrace with Theodoric, or incurred some 
suspicion of disloyalty, which led to the rigorous order 
for their detention in Rome. See Dahn iii. 279-280.] 



c It befits the discipline of our time that those who Protec- 
are serving the public interests shall not be loaded with J^ereof 
superfluous burdens. Labour therefore diligently at the potteries, 
potteries (figulinae) which our Royal authority has 
conceded to you. Protection is hereby promised against 
the wiles of wicked men.' [What was the nature of the 
artifices to which they were exposed is not very clear.] 


' We hear with sorrow, by the report of the Provincial O f taxa- 
Judges, that you the Fathers of the State, who ought to ^ d s u e e _ 
set an example to your sons (the ordinary citizens), nators. 

184 Cassiodori Variae. 

have, been so remiss in the payment of taxes that on this 
first collection l nothing, or next to nothing, has been 
brought in from any Senatorial house. Thus a crushing 
weight has fallen on the lower orders (tenues, curiales), 
who have had to make good your deficiencies and have 
been distraught by the violence of the tax-gatherers. 

' Now then, oh Conscript Fathers, who owe as much 
duty to the Republic as we do, pay the taxes for which 
each one of you is liable, to the Procurators appointed in 
each Province, by three instalments (trina illatione). Or, 
if you prefer to do so and it used to be accounted 
a privilege pay all at once into the chest of the 
Yicarius. And let this following edict be published, that 
all the Provincials may know that they are not to be 
imposed upon and that they are invited to state their 
grievances V 


[Referred to in the preceding letter.] 
Evasion The King detests the oppression of the unfortunate, 

of taxes , , r f , . . ,. 

by the an( l encourages tnem to make tneir complaints to mm. 
rich. jj e h as h ear d that the powerful houses are failing to 

pay their share of the taxes, and that a larger sum in 

consequence is being exacted from the tenues 3 . 

To 'amputate' such wickedness for the future, the 

letter last preceding has been addressed to the Senate ; 

and the 'Possessores sive curiales' are now invited 

1 ' Primae transmissionis tempus.' 

2 See Dahn, 'Kb'nige der Gennanen' iii. 153 and 112, n. 5. 

3 Here follows a sentence which I am unable to translate : * Superbia 
deinde conductorum canonicos solidos non ordine traditos, sed sub iniquo 
pondere imniinentibus fuisse projectos nee universam siliquam quam red- 
dere consueverant solemniter intulisse.' I think the meaning is, that 
the stewards of the Senators (conductores) arrogantly refused to allow the 
money paid to the tax-collectors (canonici solidi) to be tested, as in ordi- 
nary course it should have been, to see if it was of full weight. The 
' imminentes ' are, I think, the tax-collectors. I cannot at all understand 
the clause about ' universam siliquam.' 

Book II. Letters 25-27. 185 

to state their grievances fully and frankly, or else 
ever after hold their peace and cultivate a habit of 


A difficult letter about the corn-merchants of Apulia Regula- 

Qnrl Paladin tions for 


1. The corn which they have collected by public sale fie of 
is not to be demanded over again from them under the 
title of ' interpretium ' [difference of price]. 

2. Similarly as to the Sextarius which the merchant 
of each Province imports. No one is to dare insolently 
to exact the prices which have been always condemned. 

3. Fines of ^1,200 on the Praefect himself, and ^400 
on his officium (subordinates), are to be levied if this 
order is disobeyed. 

4. If the ' Siliquatarius ' thinks right to withhold the 
monopoly (of corn) from any merchant, he must not also 
exact the monopoly payment from him. 

5. As to the Aurarii [persons liable to payment of the 
lustralis auri collatio 1 ], let the old order be observed, 
and those only be classed under this function whom the 
authority of antiquity chose to serve thereunder. 


The Jews are permitted to roof in the old walls of their Rebuild- 
synagogue, but they are not to enlarge it beyond its j^j^ 
old borders, nor to add any kind of ornament, under pain Syna- 
of the King's sharp displeasure ; and this leave is granted gc 
on the understanding that it does not conflict with the 
thirty years' ' Statute of Limitations.' 

1 This appears to have been a tax levied on all traders, otherwise known 
as the Chrysargyron. See Cod. Theod. xiii. i . Aurarii is therefore equi- 
valent to Licensed Traders. 

186 Cassiodori Variae. 

f Why do ye desire what ye ought to shun ? In truth 
we give the permission which you craved, but we suit- 
ably blame the desire of your wandering minds. We 
cannot order a religion, because no one is forced to 
I believe against his will.' 


Honours Praises him for all the good qualities which have been 
oTste recognised by successive Judges under whom he has 
phanus served his secrecy, efficiency, and incorruptibility, 
retire- He is therefore, on his retirement from active service, 
ment raised to the honour of a ' Spectabilis,' and rewarded 
the Civil with the rank of ' Comitiva Primi Ordinis.' As a sub- 
Service. s t an tial recompence he is to have all the privileges 
which by 'divalia constituta' belong to the 'ex-prin- 
cipes ' of his Schola, and is guaranteed against all 
damage and ' sordid burdens 2 ,' with a hope of further 
employment in other capacities 3 . 


Protec- [Notice the Senatorial rank borne by a man with a 
tionto G otn i c name .] 

ents of 'We wish to protect all our subjects 4 , but especially 

Church ^ ne Church, because by so doing we earn the favour 
of Heaven. Therefore, in accordance with the petition 
of the blessed Eustorgius 5 , Bishop of Milan, we desire you 

1 Are we to understand by this expression the Officium of the Praetorian 
Praefect ? 

3 Curial obligations. 

3 * Fixum tenuisti militiae probatae vestigium. Spectabilitati? hono- 
rem, quern militiae sudore detersis justa deputavit antiquitas praesenti tibi 
auctoritate conferimus ut laboris tui tandem finitas exculias . . . intelligas 
. . . Tibique utpote militiae munere persoluto.' The term 'militia' is em- 
ployed here, as in the Codes, of ' service in a bureau.' 

4 ' Quia Kegnantes est gloria, subjectorum otiosa tranquillitas.' 

5 For Eustorgius, of. Letter i. 9. 

Book II. Letters 28-31. 187 

to accord all necessary protection to the men and farms 
belonging to the Milanese Church in Sicily: always 
understanding, however, that they are not to refuse to 
plead in answer to any public or private suit that may 
be brought against them. They are to be protected from 
wrong, but are not themselves to deviate from the path 
of justice.' 


[Sequel to last letter.] 

' Our generosity to an individual does not harm the Freedom 
public, and there is no reason for putting any bounds atioV^" 

to its exercise. granted 

'The Defensores of the Holy Church of Milan ^^ 
want to be enabled to buy as cheap as possible the ofMilan - 
things which they need for the relief of the poor; 
and they say that we have bestowed this favour on 
the Church of Ravenna. 

' Your Magnificence will therefore allow them to single 
out some one merchant who shall buy for them in the 
market, without being subject to monopoly, siliquati- 
cum, or the payment of gold-fee V 

[It is easy to see how liable to abuse such an excep- 
tion was. Who was to decide when this merchant 
was buying for the Church and when for himself ; when 
the Church was buying for the poor and when for her 
own enrichment ?] 


{ Those who claim the title of " militia " ought to serve State 
the public advantage. We have therefore told the 
Count of Sacred Largesses that you are to assemble 

1 Auraria pensio. See note on ii. 26. 

188 Cassiodori Variae. 

at Hostilia [on the Padus, about fifteen miles east of 
Mantua], there to receive pay from our Treasury, and 
then to relieve the land postal-service (veredarii) by 
excursions up and down the channel of the Padus. 
There is no fear of your limping ; you walk with your 
hands. No fear of your carriages wearing out ; they 
travel over liquid roads, and suffer no wear and tear 
because they are borne along upon the wave which 
itself runs with them.' 


Drain- 'We always enjoy rewarding public spirit. Decius, 
Eaarshes Magnificus and Patrician, has most nobly volunteered 
of Decen- fa drain the marsh of Decennonium, where the sea- 
like swamp, accustomed to impunity through long 
licence, rushes in and spoils all the surrounding 

'We, in consideration of so great an undertaking, 
determine to secure to him the fruits of his labour, 
and we therefore wish that you, Conscript Fathers, 
should appoint a commission of two to visit the spot 
and mark out the ground, which is at present wasted 
by the inundations, that this land may be secured 
to Decius as a permanent possession when he has 
drained it.' 

[The Palus Decennonii is undoubtedly connected with 
the Decennovial Canal mentioned by Procopius (' De Bello 
Gotth.' i. u), and so called because it flowed for nine- 
teen miles alongside the Appian Way. In the Piazza 
at Terracina there is a very interesting inscription, re- 
cording the fact that Theodoric had ordered that nineteen 
miles of the Appian Way should be cleared of the waters 
which had accumulated round it, and had committed 
the work to Caecina Maurus Basili us Decius, ' Vir Claris- 
simus et Illustris, Ex-Praefectus Urbi, Ex-Praefectus 

Book II. Letters 32-34. 189 

Praetori, Ex-Consul Ordinarius et Patricius.' See ' Italy 
and her Invaders ' iii. 348.] 


The complement of the foregoing letter, about the The same 
drainage of the marshes of Decennonium, which are 8ub J ect - 
hereby granted to him, apparently 'sine fisco,' tax- 

[But the meaning may be, 'the marshes which you 
drain sine fisco' without help from the Treasury.] 

The chief point of difference between this and the 
previous letter is that here Decius is allowed and en- 
couraged to associate partners with him in the drainage- 
scheme, whom he is to reward according to their share 
of the work. Thus will he be less likely to sink under 
the enterprise, and he will also lessen men's envy of 
his success. 


' The persons to whom money was entrusted for the Embez- 
rebuilding of the walls of Rome have been embezzling 

it, as was proved by your examination of their accounts building 
(discussio). We are very glad that you have not hidden 
their misconduct from us (inclined as a generous mind 
is to cover up offences), since you would thereby have 
made yourself partaker of their evil deeds. They must 
restore that which they have dishonestly appropriated, 
but we shall not (as we might fairly do) inflict upon 
them any further fine. We are naturally inclined to 
clemency, and they will groan at having to give up 
plunder which they had already calculated upon as 
their own.' 

190 Cassiodori Variae. 


[We have here another Senator with a Gothic name]. 

Theft of 'We are much displeased at hearing that a brazen 

brazen statue has been stolen from the City of Como. It is 

Como. vexatious that while we are labouring to increase the 

ornaments of our cities, those which Antiquity has 

bequeathed to us should by such deeds be diminished. 

Offer a reward of 100 aurei (j^6o) to anyone who 

will reveal the author of this crime; promise pardon 

[to an accomplice], and if this does not suffice, call 

all the workmen together "post diem venerabilem" 

[Does this mean on the day after Sunday ?], and enquire 

of them "sub terrore" [by torture ?] by whose help this 

has been done. For such a piece of work as moving 

this statue could only have been undertaken by some 



[Refers to previous letter.] 
The same ' Though impunity for the crime should be sufficient 
subject. rewarc i j we promise 100 aurei, as well as forgiveness 
for his share in the offence, to anyone who will reveal 
the author of the theft of the statue at Como. A 
golden reward for a brazen theft. Anyone not accepting 
this offer and afterwards convicted will suffer the ex- 
treme penalty of the law.' 


Largesse * As our Kingdom and revenues prosper, we wish to 

zenTof increase our liberality. Let your Magnificence therefore 

Spoleto. give to the citizens of Spoletium another "millena" for 

extraordinary gratuitous admissions to the baths 1 . We 

1 'Ad exhibitionem thennarum supra consuetudinem.' 

Book II. Letters 35-39. 191 

wish to pay freely for anything that tends to the 
health of our citizens, because the praise of our times 
is the celebration of the joys of the people.' 
[The 'millena' probably means 1,000 solidi, or 


1 We have no pleasure in gains which are acquired 
by the misery of our subjects. We are informed that 
the merchants of the city of Sipontum [in Apulia] Hostile 
have been grievously despoiled by hostile incursions 
[probably by the Byzantine fleet in 508]. Let your Mag- 
nificence therefore see to it that they are for two years 
not vexed by any claims for purveyance (coemptio) 
on the part of our Treasury. But their other creditors 
must give them the same indulgence.' 


1 The fountain of Aponus so called originally in the Hot 
Greek language as being the remover of pain 1 has 
many marvellous and beneficial properties, for the sake 
of which the buildings round it ought to be kept in 
good repair. One may see it welling up from the 
bowels of the earth in spherical form, under a canopy 
of steam. From this parent spring the waters, glassy- 
clear and having lost their first impetuosity, flow by 
various channels into chambers prepared for them by 
nature but made longer by art. In the first, when the 
boiling element dashes against the rock, it is hot enough 

I to make a natural sudatorium ; then it cools sufficiently 
for the tepidarium ; and at last, quite cold, flows out 

I into a fish-pond like that of Nero. Marvellous provision 
of Nature, whereby the opposing elements, fire and 
water, are joined in harmonious union and made to 


192 Cassiodori Variae. 

soothe the pain and remove the sickness of man! Yet 
more wonderful is the moral purity of this fountain. 
Should a woman descend into the bath when men 
are -using it, it suddenly grows hotter, as if with 
indignation that out of its abundant supply of waters 
separate bathing-places should not be constructed for 
the two sexes, if they wish to enjoy its bounty 1 . 
Moreover, those secret caves, the bowels of the moun- 
tains from whence it springs, have power even to 
judge contentious business. For if any sheep-stealer 
presumes to bring to it the fleece of his prey, however 
often he may dip it in the seething wave, he will have 
to boil it before he succeeds in cleansing it. 

' This fountain then, as we before said, deserves a 
worthy habitation. If there be anything to repair in 
the thermae themselves or in the passages (cuniculi), 
let this be done out of the money which we now send 
you. Let the thorns and briers which have grown 
up around it be rooted up. Let the palace, shaken 
with extreme old age, be strengthened by careful re- 
storation. Let the space which intervenes between the 
public building and the source of the hot-spring be 
cleared of its woodland roughness, and the turf around 
rejoice in the green beauty which it derives from the 
heated waters.' 

[The hot-springs of Abano, the ancient Aponum, are 
situated near the Euganean Hills, and are about six miles 
from Padua. The heat of the water varies from 77 to 
185 (Fahr.). The chief chemical ingredients are, as 
stated by Cassiodorus, salt and sulphur. Some of the 
minute description of Cassiodorus (greatly condensed 
in the above abstract) seems to be still applicable ; but 
he does not mention the mud-baths which now take a 
prominent place in the cure. On the other hand, the 
wonderful moral qualities of the spring are not men- 
tioned by modern travellers.] 

1 J think this is Cassiodorus' meaning, but his language is obscure. 

Book II. Letters 39-40. 193 


' The King of the Franks [Clovis] has asked us to Boetius 
send him a harper. We felt that in you lay our best ^Va^per 
chance of complying with his request, because you, for the 
being such a lover of music yourself, will be able to O f^ e 
introduce us to the right man.' Franks. 

Reflections on the nature of music. She is the Queen 
of the senses ; when she comes forth from her secret 
abiding place all other thoughts are cast out. Her 
curative influence on the soul. 

The five tones: the Dorian 1 , influencing to modesty 
and purity ; the Phrygian to fierce combat ; the Aeolian 
to tranquillity and slumber ; the Ionian (Jastius), which 
sharpens the intellect of the dull and kindles the desire 
of heavenly things; the Lydian, which soothes the 
soul oppressed with too many cares. 

We distinguish the highest, middle, and lowest in 
each tone, obtaining thus in all fifteen tones of artificial 

The diapason is collected from all, and unites all their 

Classical instances of music : 

The human voice as an instrument of music. Oratory 
and Poesy as branches of the art. 

The power of song : "Ulysses and the Sirens. 

David the author of the Psalter, who by his melody 
three (?) times drove away the evil spirit from Saul. 

1 Cf. Milton : 

' To the Dorian mood 

Of flutes and soft recorders; such as rais'd 
To highth of noblest temper heroes old 
Arming to battle, and instead of rage 
Deliberate valour breath'd, firm and unmov'd 
With dread of death to flight or foul retreat.' 

194 Cassiodori Variae. 

The lyre is called * chorda,' because it so easily moves 
the hearts (corda) of men. 

As the diadem dazzles by the variegated lustre of 
its gems, so the lyre with its divers sounds. 

The lyre, the loom of the Muses. 

Mercury, the inventor of the lyre, is said to have de- 
rived the idea of it from the harmony of the spheres. 
This astral music, apprehended by reason alone, is said 
to form one of the delights of heaven. ' If philosophers 
had placed that enjoyment not in sweet sounds but 
in the contemplation of the Creator, they would have 
spoken fitly ; for there is truly joy without end, eternity 
abiding for ever without weariness, and the mere con- 
templation of the Divinity produces such happiness that 
nothing can surpass it. This Being furnishes the true 
immortality ; this heaps delight upon delight ; and as 
outside of Him no creature can exist, so without Him 
changeless happiness cannot be 1 . 

* We have indulged ourselves in a pleasant digression, 
because it is always agreeable to talk of learning with 
the learned ; but be sure to get us that Citharoedus, 
who will go forth like another Orpheus to charm the 
beast-like hearts of the Barbarians. You will thus 
both obey us and render yourself famous.' 


Victories Congratulates him on his recent victories over the 
over the 8 Alamanni. Refers to the ties of affinity between them 
(Theodoric having married the sister of Clovis). Clovis 
has stirred up the nation of the Franks, 'prisca aetate 

1 'Bene quidem arbitrati, si causam celestis beatitudinis non in sonis 
sed in Creatore possuissent; ubi veraciter sine fine gaudium est, sine 
aliquo taedio manens semper aeternitas : et inspectio sola Divinitatis 
efficit, ut beatius esse nil possit. Haec veraciter perennitatem praestat : 
haec jucunditates accumulat ; et sicut praeter ipsam creatura non extat, 
ita sine ipsa incomin utabilem laetitiam habere non praevalet.' 


Book II. Letter 41. 195 

residem,' to new and successful encounters. 'It is a 
memorable triumph that the impetuous Alaman should 
be struck with such terror as even to beg for his life. 
Let it suffice that that King with all the pride of his 
race should have fallen: let it suffice that an innumer- 
able people should have been doomed either to the 
sword or to slavery.' 

He recommends (almost orders) Clovis not to touch 
the panic-stricken refugees who have fled to the 
territory of Theodoric. Theodoric himself has always 
found that those wars were prosperously waged which 
were ended moderately. 

Theodoric sends 'ilium et ilium' as ambassadors, 
to take certain verbal counsels from himself, to bring 
this letter and carry back the reply, and also to intro- 
duce the Citharoedus of whom we heard in the pre- 
ceding letter 1 . 

[The campaign of Clovis against the Alamanni, referred 
to in this letter, is not mentioned by Gregory of Tours. 
Ennodius, however, in his Panegyric on Theodoric, and 
Agathias in his History, make distinct allusions to this 
event, and to Theodoric' s reception of the vanquished 
Alamanni in his own dominions, probably in the valleys 
of Raetia. 

This letter is very fully discussed by Von Schubert, 
at pp. 32-43 of his ' Unterwerfung der Alamannen' 
(Strassburg, 1884). I may also refer to 'Italy and her 
Invaders' iii. 390-91. 

The date of the letter is probably about 504.] 

1 There are two allusions to the relationship between the Kings : 
' vestrae virtutis affinitate' (line i), and 'ad parentum vestrorum defensi- 
onem confugisse' (line 10). 




Dia- ' SUBROUNDED as you are by an innumerable multitude 

Alaric ^ Su l>j ects 5 an( * strong in the remembrance of their 
theVisi- having turned back Attila 1 , still do not fight with 
war with Clovis, /War is a terrible thing, and a terrible risk. 
the The long peace may have softened the hearts of your 
people, and your soldiers from want of practice may 
have lost the habit of working together on the battle- 
field. Ere yet blood is shed, draw back if possible. 
We are sending ambassadors to the King of the Franks 
to try to prevent this war between our relatives ; and 
the ambassadors whom we are sending to you will go 
on to Gundibad, King of the Burgundians, to get him 
to interpose on behalf of peace. Your enemy will be 
mine also. 5 

[The battle of Vougle', in which Alaric was over- 
thrown by Clovis, was fought in 507 ; but the date of 
this letter is probably 506 (Dahn's date) rather than 507, 
as there were no doubt some premonitory symptoms 
before the war broke out. 

1 'Quamvis Attilam potentem reminiscamini Visigothorum viribus in- 

Book III. Letters 1-2. 197 

Binding i. 181 (n. 608), and Pallmann ii. 55 n. i, and 
135 n. 2, incline to a date somewhat earlier even than 
506, thinking that there may have been earlier threaten- 
ings of war, which Theodoric succeeded for the time in 

The earlier the date the better will it suit the allusion 
to Clovis (and Alaric) as ' Regii Juvenes ' in the follow- 
ing letter. Clovis was born in 466, and was therefore 
41 years of age at'the battle of Vougld] 



Repeats the arguments in iii. i about the ill effects of Bis- 
war on the fortunes of all, and says that it is Theodoric' s ^ * n ^?_ 
part to moderate the angry impulses of 'regii juvenes.' bad from 
It becomes them to reverence 'senes,' such as Theo- 
doric and Gundibad, although they are themselves in 
the balmy vigour of the flower of their age. 

Sends two ambassadors ('ilium atque ilium') with 
letters and a verbal message, hoping that the wisdom of 
Gundibad may reflect upon what they say to him 
[perhaps too delicate a matter to be committed to 
writing], and find some way of preserving peace. 

[It is remarkable that in this letter Theodoric, who 
was probably only 52, if the date of it be 506, and who 
may have been a year or two younger, speaks of him- 
self along with Gundibad as a senex, and of Clovis, who 
could hardly be more than twelve years his junior, as 
regius juvenis. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact 
that Cassiodorus speaks from his own point of view. 
To him, now about 26 years of age, Theodoric might 
seem to be fitly described as ' senex.' 

See Binding i. 181-183 on this letter and the reasons 
why it produced no effect on Gundibad. See also 
Dahn ii. 144.] 

198 Cassiodori Variae. 


Attempt [On the same subject.] If Clovis succeeds in his 
Teutonic" unprovoked aggression on Alaric, none of his neighbours 
coalition W H1 be safe. ' I will tell you just what I think: he who 
of Alaric. inclines to act without law is prepared to shake the 
kingdoms of all of us 1 .' 

c Remember how often Alaric's father Euric gave 
you presents and staved off war from your borders. 
Repay to the son the kindness of the father. I send 
you two ambassadors, and I want you to join your 
representations to mine and Gundibad's, calling on 
Clovis to desist from his attacks on Alaric and seek 
redress from the law of nations 2 , or else expect the 
combined attack of all of us, for this quarrel is really 
the quarrel of us all.' 

[The turn of the Thuringians to be swallowed up by 
the Frankish Monarchy came in 531. 

See on this letter Dahn, ' Konige der Germanen ' ii. 144 
and S n.2', Pallmann ii. 55.] 


Desires [On the same subject.] ' The affinities of kings ought 

desist t keep their subjects from the plague of war. We are 

from grieved to hear of the paltry causes which are giving 

Alaric. rise to rumours of war between you and our son Alaric, 

1 Compare the state of Europe during the wars of the French Revolution, 
as expressed by Tennyson : 

' Again their ravening eagle rose, 
In anger, wheel'd on Europe-shadowing wings, 
And barking for the thrones of kings.' 

2 ' Et leges gentium quaerat.' But how was the law of nations to be 
enforced ? 

Book III. Letters 3-5. 199 

rumours which gladden the hearts of the enemies of 
both of you. Let me say with all frankness, but with 
all affection, just what I think : " It is the act of a 
passionate man to get his troops ready for action at the 
first embassy which he sends." Instead of that refer the 
matter to our arbitration. It would be a delight to me to 
choose men capable of mediating between you. What 
would you yourselves think of me if I could hear 
unmoved of your murderous intentions towards one 
another? Away with this conflict, in which one of you 
will probably be utterly destroyed. Throw away the 
sword which you wield for my humiliation. By what 
right do I thus threaten you ? By the right of a father 
and a friend. He who shall despise this advice of 
ours will have to reckon us and our friends as his 

' I send two ambassadors to you, as I have to my son 
Alaric, and hope that they may be able so to arrange 
matters that no alien malignity may sow the seeds of 
dissension between you, and that your nations, which 
under your fathers have long enjoyed the blessings of 
peace, may not now be laid waste by sudden collision. 
You ought to believe him who, as you know, has rejoiced 
in your prosperity. No true friend is he who launches 
his associates, unwarned, into the headlong dangers of 


Flmportunus was Consul in 509. This letter there- Impor- 

_. tunua 

fore probably belongs to the early part of 510.] proinot 

' Noble birth and noble deeds meet in you, and we are-glf 
therefore bestowing on you an honour to which by age e iate. 
you are scarcely yet entitled. Your father and uncle 
were especially noteworthy, the glory of the Senate, 

Cassiodori Variae. < 

men who adorned modern ages 1 with the antique virtues, 
men who were prosperous without being hated. The 
Senate felt their courage, the multitude their wisdom. 

' Therefore, being descended from such ancestors, and 
yourself possessing such virtues, on laying down the 
Consular fasces, assume the insignia of the Patriciate. 
Bind those fillets, which are generally reserved for the 
hoary head, round your young locks, and by your future 
actions justify my choice of you.' 


[See preceding letter.] 

The same ' We delight to introduce new men to the Senate, but 
lubject. we ^igkt s tiii more when we can bring back to that 
venerable body, crowned with fresh honours, her own 
offspring 2 . And such is now my fortune in presenting 
to you Importunus, crowned with the honours of the 
Patriciate ; Importunus, who is descended from the great 
stock of the Decii, a stock illustrated by noble names in 
every generation, by the favour of the Senate and the 
choice of the people. Even as a boy he had a counte- 
nance of serene beauty, and to the gifts of Nature he 
added the endowments of the mind. From his parents 
in household lays he learned the great deeds of the old 
Decii. Once, at a great spectacle, the whole school at 
the recitation of the Lay of the Decii turned their eyes 
on Importunus, discerning that he would one day rival 
his ancestors. Thus his widowed mother brought him 
up, him and all his troop of brothers, and gave to the 
Curia as many Consulars a^-ebtra^sons 3 . All these 

1 Notice the use of the worn modernus here/a post-classical word, 
which apparently occurs first in Nirfisinflnrnn "^"^ 

2 ' Origo ipsa jam gloria est : laus nobilitati connascitur. Idem vobis 
est dignitatis, quod vitae principium. Senatus enim honor amplissimus 
vobiscum gignitur, ad quern vix maturis aetatibus pervenitur.' 

3 ' Et quot edidit familiae juvenes, tot reddidit curiae consulares.' 

Book III. Letters 6-8. 201 

private virtues I have discerned in him, and now seal 
them with promotion to the Patriciate. At this act I 
call on you specially to rejoice.' 


' The lamentable petition of John says that you have Extor- 
taken sixty tuns of oil from him, and never paid him ^ ^ 
for them. It is especially important that preachers of Bishop of 
righteousness should be righteous themselves. We can- 
not suppose that God is ignorant whence come the 
offerings which we make before Him [and He must there- 
fore hate robbery for a burnt offering]. Pray enquire 
into this matter, and if the complaint be well founded 
remedy it promptly. You who preach to us our duty 
in great things should not be caught tripping in little 


[Venantius, son of Liberius, was, with many high Eemiss- 
commendations, made Comes Domesticorum in Letters y 6 ^^. 
ii. 15 and 16. See further as to his fall in iii. 36, alsoti u si n 

, -, colleo- 

111. 40. J tionof 

' Remissness in the collection of the public taxes is a P ublic 


great fault, and no kindness in the end to the taxpayer. 
For want of a timely caution you probably have to end 
by selling him up. 

* The Count of Sacred Largesses tells us that you were 
long ago commissioned to get in the Bina and Terna 
[and have not done so]. Be quick about it, that the 
collection may be completed according to the registers 
of the Treasury. If you are not quick, and the 
Treasury suffers loss, you will have to make it good 

202 Cassiodori Variae. 

out of your private property. You have not shown 
proper respect to our orders, nor a due sense of the 
obligation of your own promise.' 

[These ' Bina' and * Terna' are a mystery ; but Dahn 1 
thinks they are not a specially Gothic tax, but an in- 
heritance from the fiscal administration of Borne, having 
probably nothing to do with the Tertiae.] 


Marbles \\r e wish to build new edifices without despoiling the 
E, a venna. old 4 . But we are informed that in your municipality 
there are blocks of masonry and columns formerly be- 
longing to some building now lying absolutely useless 
and unhonoured. If it be so, send these slabs of marble 5 
and columns 6 by all means to Ravenna, that they may 
be again made beautiful and take their place in a build- 
ing there.' 


The same A similar order, for the transport of marbles from the 
Pincian Hill to Ravenna, by Catabulenses 7 . ' We have 
ordered a " subvectus " [assistance from the public postal- 
service ?], that the labourers may set to work at once.' 

1 iii. 145, n. 4. 

2 Note these three classes ; as also in ii. 17. 

3 I have not been able to identify this place. 

* ' Moderna sine priorum imminutione desideramus erigere.' 

5 'Platonias.' This, which is the spelling found in Nivellius' edition, 
seems to be a more correct form than the ' platomas ' of Garet. Ducange, 
who has a. long article on the subject, refers the word to the Greek 

6 Possibly the columns in S. Apollinare Deutro may have been some of 
those here mentioned. 

7 ' Catabulenses/ or ' Catabolenses ' freighters, contractors, who effected 
the transport of heavy goods by means of draught-horses and mules. 

Book III. Letters 9-12. 203 

[A.D. 510]. 

Announces to this young man his nomination to the Argo- 
Praefecture of the City (for the 4th Indiction). Enlarges panted" 
on the dignity of the office, especially as involving the Praefect 
Presidency of the Senate, and calls upon him by a city 6 
righteous and sober life to show himself worthy of the 

Argolicus is a great student [perhaps a literary friend 
of Cassiodorus], and he is exhorted to keep himself in 
the right path by musing on the great examples of 

[There is a sort of tone of apology for the appointment 
of Argolicus, which is perhaps accounted for by the fact, 
which comes out in the next letter, that his father was 
a comparatively poor man. 

See a sharp rebuke of Argolicus for venal procrasti- 
nation, iv. 29.] 


Rehearses the usual sentiments about the dignity of The same 
the Senate and Theodoric's care in the choice of officials. su Jec1 

1 It is easier, if one may say so, for Nature herself to 
err, than that a Sovereign should make a State unlike 
to himself.' 

Recounts the ancestry of Argolicus. The older Sena- 
tors will remember his eloquent and purely-living grand- 
father, a man of perfectly orthodox reputation, who filled 
the offices of Comes Sacrarum Largitionum and Magister 
Officiorum. His father never stained the dignity of 
' Comes Privatarum ' by cruelty, and was free from 
ill-gotten gains in an age when avarice was not ac- 
counted a crime 1 . 

1 Tillemont understands this of the times of Odovacar, vi. 438. 

204 Cassiodori Variae. 

1 We may hope that the son will follow the example of 
such distinguished ancestors.' 


Sunhi- [Notice again the Roman title and Gothic name.] 
Governor ' You who have ruled your own life in a long career 
of Sam- so well should make a good governor of others. I 
therefore send you to Samnium as Governor, in reply 
to the complaints which reach me from that Pro- 
vince. Settle according to the law of justice the dis- 
putes which have arisen there between the Romans and 
the Goths/ 



Accu- ' You as a Bishop will be especially grieved to hear 
against ^ anv offences against the sanctity of the married state, 
the ser- Julianus complains that his wife has been outraged and 
Bishop, his goods wasted by some of your servants [probably 

' Do you enquire into the matter, and if the complaint 
appears to be just, deal promptly and severely with the 

[Cf. Dahn, ' Konige der Germanen' iii. 193, on this 
letter. He shows that it has been improperly appealed 
to as proving the immunity of all ecclesiastical persons 
from a secular tribunal. What Theodoric really intended 
was to give the Bishop a chance of settling the affair 
himself, and so to prevent the scandal of its appearing 
in the secular Courts, which it assuredly would do if 
the Bishop were apathetic. But one sees how easily 
this would glide into something like immunity from 
secular tribunals.] 

Book III. Letters 13-16. 205 


' It is the extreme of insolence in anyone not to A contu- 
execute our " sacred orders." A certain person whom jj^ 8 
we commanded to attend before the judgment-seat of the handed 
Illustrious Sona, has with inveterate cunning withdrawn Theo-* 
himself therefrom. We therefore hand him over to you, dft had. 
that your fame may grow by your skilful management 
of a difficult case like this.' 


' Having proved your worth by experience we are Appoint- 
now going to send you to govern the Provinces of Gaul 

newly wrested [from Clovis], as Vicar of the Praefects 2 . asGover- 

' Think what a high opinion we must have formed GauL 
of you to delegate to you the government of these 
Provinces, the conquest of which has added so much 
to our glory, and the good opinion of whose inhabitants 
we so particularly wish to acquire. Abhor turbulence ; 
do not think of avarice; show yourself in all things 
such a Governor as " Romanus Princeps " ought to send, 
and let the Province feel such an improvement in her 
lot that she may "rejoice to have been conquered." ' 

[This is so like the words put by Sidonius into the 
mouth of Lyons, after Majorian's conquest of her, that I 
believe it to be intentionally imitated.] 

1 This is no doubt the nephew of Theodoric. 

2 ' Vicarius Praefectorum.' Vicar of what Praefects ? Why the plural 
number? Had Theodoric a titular Praefect of the Gauls, to whom this 
Vicarius was theoretically subject while practically obeying the Praefect 
of Italy ? Or, to prevent bickerings, did he give the ' Praefectus Italiae ' 
and the 'Praefectus Urbis' conjoint authority over the new conquests? 
There is some mystery here which would be worth explaining. 

Cassiodori Variae. 

Procla- Obey the Roman customs. You are now by God's 
the new blessing restored to your ajicient freedojtn ; put off the 
k ar k ar i an 5 c l tne yourselves with the morals of the toga- 
unlearn cruelty, that you may not be unworthy to be 
our subjects. We are sending you Spectabilis Gemellus 
as Vicarius Praefectorum, a man of tried worth, who 
we trust will be guilty of no crime, because he knows 
he would thereby seriously displease us. Obey his 
commands therefore. Do not dislike the reign of Law 
because it is new to you, after the aimless seethings of 
Barbarism (Gentilitas). 

' You may now bring out your long-hidden treasures ; 
the rich and the noble will again have a chance of 
suitable promotion. You may now enjoy what till 
now you have only heard of the triumph of Public 
Right, the most certain solace of hum^n Hf^ the help 
of the weak, the curb ^fjLhe__strong. You may now 
understand that men are exalted not by their bodily 
strength, but by reason.' 

[Some of these reflections on the past misgovernment 
of Gentilitas hit the Visigoths, Theodoric's friends, harder 
than the Franks. If the Gaulish nobles of the south- 
eastern Provinces (and these were all that Theodoric 
had conquered) had long been obliged to hide the 
treasures of their fathers, that surely was the fault 
rather of Euric and Alaric II than of Clovis. 

Cf. Dahn, 'Konige der Germanen' iii. 2,61-2, on all 
this correspondence.] 


to b^^e- [Probably during his government of Gaul]. 

stored to <We wish that all who have elected to live under 

sessions, our Clemency should be the better for it. 

Book III. Letters 17-30. 207 

'The Spectabilis Magnus, spurning the conversation 
of our enemies [Franks ?], and remembering his own 
origin, has sought re-patriation in the Roman Empire ; 
but during his absence his property has suffered loss. 
Let him therefore be restored to, and henceforward have j 
unquestioned possession of, all that he can prove to be 
his own in the way of lands, urban or rural slaves.' 


* We wish the servants of our palace to have proper Mono- 
reward for their labours, though we might call on them supply of 
to render them gratuitously. Therefore, being much marble 
pleased with your skill in preparing and ornamenting p hj^i. 
marbles, we concede to you the [sole] right of furnish- 
ing the marble chests in which the citizens of Ravenna 
bury their dead. 

' They thus keep them above ground no small conso- 
lation to the survivors, since the souls alone depart from 
this world's conversation ; but they do not altogether lose 
the bodies which once were dear to them. 

' Do not, however, impose upon their sadness ; do not 
let a relative be forced to the alternative of wasting 
his substance in funeral expenses, or else throwing the 
body of his dear one into some well. Be moderate in 
your charges.' 

[Odovacar was buried Zv XiQivy Xapvaia (Joann. Ant. 
fr. 214). The great stone coffins of Honorius and Valenti- 
nian will be remembered by every visitor to Ravenna.] 


[Cf. Dahn, ' Konige der Germanen' iii. 86 and 113.] sion of 

'We are determined to assist the humble, and to 
repress the violence of the proud. , Faustus 

208 Cassiodori Variae. . 

1 The lamentable petition of Castorius sets forth that 

he has been unjustly deprived of his property by the 

magnificent Praetorian Praefect Faustus. [The same, 

5 1 no doubt, to whom are addressed iii. * i. 35, and the 

immediately succeeding letter (iii. 21).] 

'If it be so, let the invader (pervasor) restore to 
Castorius his property, and hand over, besides, another 
property of equal value. 

' If Faustus have employed any intermediate person in 
the act of violence, let him be brought to us in chains ; 
and if that well-known author of ill [Faustus] tries 
any further to injure Castorius, he shall pay 2,000, 
besides having the misery of seeing his would-be victim 

, ' No Powers of any kind, be they Praetorian Praefects 
V or what they may, shall be permitted to trample on 
\l the lowly.' 


Disgrace ' As all men require change, Faustus is allowed to 
5o m ~ absent himself from the sacred walls of Home for four 


exile of months, which he may spend at his own Penates. The 
King expects, however, that he will then return to the 
most famous (opinatissima) City, from which no Roman 
Senator can long be absent without grief.' 

[Coupling this letter with its immediate predecessor 
it is difficult not to believe that Faustus is sent away 
in disgrace notwithstanding the smooth words here 
used for the act of injustice therein mentioned. 

But why is he only addressed as Vir Illustris, and 
not also as Praefectus? Perhaps his term of office was 
expired ; perhaps he was even dismissed from it.] 

Book III. Letters 21-23. 209 


' We hereby [by these oracles] invite your Greatness An 
to behold us, which we know will be most agreeable 
to you, in order that you who have now spent a large to the 
portion of your life with us may be satisfied by the Mend 
sweetness of our presence. He who is permitted to Art 611 
share our converse deems it a Divine boon. We be- 
lieve that you will come gladly, as we shall entertain 
you with alacrity.' 

[Cf. Dahn iii. 283-4. The ending of the letter (Venire 
te gaudentem credimus, quern alacriter sustinemus) is the 
common form, and ' sustineo ' is a technical word for the 
King's reception of his subjects : see iii. 28, ad finem.] 

AND COMES (CIR. A.D. 505). 

'We delight to entrust our mandates to persons of Appoint- 
approved character. gj^* 

* We are sending you " with the dignity of the illus- saeus as 
trious belt " to Pannonia Sirmiensis, an old habitation O fp an . 
of the Goths. Let that Province be induced to welcome 
her old defenders, even as she used gladly to obey our 
ancestors. Show forth the justice of the Goths, a nation 
happily situated for praise, since it is theirs to unite 
the forethought of the Romans and the virtue of the 
Barbarians. Remove all ill-planted customs 1 , and im- 
press upon all your subordinates that we would rather 
that our Treasury lost a suit than that it gained one 
wrongfully, rather that we lost money than the tax- 
payer was driven to suicide.' 

[Cf. Muchar, ' Geschichte der Steiermark' iv. 131.] 

1 ' Consuetudines abominanter inolitas.' Fornerius thinks this means 
' all extortionate taxes.' Compare the English use of the word ' customs.' 


210 Cassiodori Variae. 


[Of. Muchar, iv. 132.] 

To the Intent on the welfare of our subjects we are sending 
mam!?" vou Colossaeus for Governor. His name means a mighty 
on the man; and a mighty man he is, who has given many 
ment^f proofs of his virtue. Now we exhort you with patience 
Coios- an( j constancy to submit yourselves to his authority. 


Do not excite that wrath before which our enemies 
tremble. Acquiesce in the rule of justice in which 
the whole world rejoices. Why should you, who have 
now an upright Judge 1 , settle your grievances by single 
combat? What has man got a tongue for, if the armed 
hand is to settle all differences? or where can peace 
be looked for, if there is fighting in a civilised State 
like ours 2 ? Imitate then our Goths, who have learned 
to practise war abroad, to show peaceable dispositions 
at home. We want you so to live as you see that our 
subjects (parentes) have lived and flourished under the 
Divine blessing.' 


Tax-col- ' We entrust to you the duty of collecting throughout 
andTron- ^ e Province of Dalmatia the arrears of Siliquaticum 
mining for the first, second, and third Indictions [Sept. i, 506, 
matia. to Aug. 3 1 ? 59] We do this not only for the sake of 

gain to our Treasury, but to prevent the demoralisation 

of our subjects. 

'Also by careful mining (cuniculo veritatis) seek out 

the iron veins in Dalmatia, where the softness of earth 

is pregnant with the rigour of iron, which is cooked 

by fire that it may become hard. 

1 ' Cur ad monomachiam recurritis, qui venalem judicem non habetis ? ' 

2 ' Aut unde pax quaeritur si sub civilitate pugnetur/ 

Book III. Letters 24-38. 211 

* Iron enables us to defend our country, is serviceable 
for agriculture and for countless arts of human life : 
yea, iron is master of gold, compelling the rich man, 
weaponless, to obey the poor man who wields a blade 
of steel.' 


Commands him to provide all the necessaries for the Simeon's 
journey of ' Clarissimus ' Simeon, setting off for Dal- t^Dai? 
matia on the aforesaid mission to collect Siliquaticum matia. 
and develop the iron mines. 

[Why is Simeon not called Illustris, as in the previous 
letter ? This seems to show that the titles ' Clarissimus ' 
and ' Illustris ' were not always used with technical 
exactness, as they would have been under Diocletian.] 


' You have not complained to us in vain that the Promises 
aetorian Praefect [perhaps again Faustus] is venting j^ 60 " 
j private grudge against you under colour of the dis- against 
charge of his public duty. We will wall you round torian 
with our protection. Go now and discharge the duties Praefect - 
of Consular of Campania with the like devotion as your 
predecessors, and with this reflection: "If the King 
prevents my superior the Praetorian Praefect from 
doing me harm, with what unfailing rigour will he 
visit me if I do wrong." ' 

An invi- 
tation to 


-TV dorus 


to come 

; For your glorious services, and your incorruptible to Court. 

1 Father of the writer. 
P 3 

212 Cassiodori Variae. 

administration, which has given deep peace to the na- 
tion, we reward you by summoning you to Court. 

'Having endeavoured to check another [probably al- 
luding to the disgrace of Faustus], we have bestowed 
our praises on you, as all the Palace knows. Come 
then, come eagerly, as he should do whom his Sovereign 
is going to entertain 1 .' 



Permis- < The King should sow his gifts broadcast, as the sower 

Pauiinus n ^ s seeds not put them all into one hole. 

to repair < The Patrician Pauiinus represents to us that such and 

certain . ,,..:. 

granaries such granaries are falling into ruin and are of no use to 

at Home. anv one, and asks to be allowed to repair them and 

transmit them to his heirs. We consent to this, if you 

are of opinion that they are not wanted for the public, and 

if there is no corn in them belonging to our Treasury. 

' It is especially fitting that all ruined buildings should 
be repaired in Rome. In Rome, praised beyond all 
other cities by the world's mouth, there should be 
nothing sordid or mediocre V 



Kepair ' We are ever vigilant for the repair and beautification 

of the n T> 

Cloacae of Rome. 

of Rome. ' Let your Sublimity know that we have directed John 
to repair the Cloacae of the City, those splendid works 

1 There is an obscure sentence in this letter : ( Hinc omnibus factus notior, 
quia multi te positum in potestate nesciunt.' Possibly the meaning is that 
the elder Cassiodorus used his power so little for his own private aggran- 
disement, that many people did not even know that he possessed it. 

2 This letter is well illustrated by an inscription of the time of Severua 
Alexander, found at Great Chesters in Northumberland, and recording 
the repair of 'horreum vetustate conlabsum.' The words of Cassiodorus 
are ' horrea longi temporis vetustate destructa.' 

Book III. Letters 29-31. 

which strike astonishment into the hearts of all be- 
holders. There you see rivers as it were shut in 
by concave mountains, flowing down through mighty 
rafters 1 (?). There you see men steering their ships 
with the utmost possible care, lest they should suffer 
shipwreck. Hence may the greatness of Rome be in- 
ferred. What other city can compare with her in her 
heights when even her depths are so incomparable ? 

' See therefore, O Praefect, that John as a public officer 
receives his proper salary.' 


{ Our care is for the whole Republic, " in which, by the 
favour of God, we are striving to bring back all things sion 
to their former state ; " but especially for the City of t S Jolm 

Rome. We hear that great depredations are being com- to^ 

ruin ot 

mitted on public property there. aque- 

<(i) It is said that the water of the aqueducts (for- 
mae) is being diverted to turn mills and water gardens in Rome. 
a thing which would not be suffered even in the country 
districts. Even in redressing this wrong we must be 
observant of law; and therefore if it should be found 
that those who are doing this can plead thirty years' 
prescription, they must be bought off, but the misuser 
must cease. If the diversion is of less ancient date 2 , it 
must of course be at once stopped without compensation. 
'(2) Slaves assigned by the forethought of previous 
rulers to the service of the formae have passed under the 
sway of private masters. 

' (3) Great weights of brass and lead (the latter very 
easy to steal, from its softness) have been stripped off 
from the public buildings. Now lonos, King of Thessaly, 

1 ' Per ingentia ligna decurrere.' Fornerius proposes to read ' stagna.' 

2 'Si vero aliquid moderna praesumptione tentatum est.' (Again 
' modernus.') 

214 Cassiodori Variae. 

is said to have first discovered lead, and Midas, King of 
Phrygia, brass. How grievous that we should be handed 
d6wn to posterity as neglecting two metals which they 
were immortalised by discovering ! 

' (4) Temples and other public buildings, which at the 
request of many we have repaired, are handed over 
without a thought to spoliation and ruin. 

'We have appointed the Spectabilis John to enquire 
into and set straight all these matters. You ought to 
have brought the matter before us yourselves : at least, 
now, support him with the necessary " solatia." ' 

[See preceding letter as to the commission entrusted 
to John, Theodoric's Clerk of the Works in Rome.] 


[Appointed Governor of the Gaulish Province in 
Letter iii. 16.] 

Bemis- The men of Aries, who were reduced to penury in the 

taxesto glorious siege which they endured on our behalf, are 

citizens freed from the obligation of taxes for the fourth Indic- 

tion [Sept. i, 510, to Aug. 31, 511]. We ask for these 

payments from men at peace, not from men besieged. 

How can one claim taxes from the lord of a field when 

one knows he has not been able to cultivate it? They 

have already rendered a most precious tribute in their 

fidelity to us. After this year, however, the taxes will 

be collected as usual.' 


Armen- OF THE ClTY. 


and Su- Armentarius (Clarissimus) and his son Superbus are 

to post to receive the privilege of Refer endi Curiae 1 . Thus 

rendf 6 ' w *^ ^e P r f ess i n of the law be, as is most fitting, 

Curiae. adorned with the honours of the Senate. 

1 Possibly Eeferendi is the same as Keferendarii. See Var. vi. 17. 

Book III. Letters 32-35. 215 

Praises of Rhetoric. The man who has swayed the 
judges by his eloquence is sure to have a favouring 
audience in the Senate. 


' In accordance with our usual policy of sending persons Count 
of tried ability and moderation to govern the Provinces, " 

we are sending Count Marabad [a Gothic name ?] to act of Mar- 
as your Governor, to bring solace to the lowly and 
repress the insolent, and to force all into the path of 
justice, which is the secret of the prosperity of our 
Empire. As befits your long-tried loyalty, welcome and 
obey him.' 


[It is surely possible that this is the dethroned Em- 
peror. The name Romulus, which, as we know, he derived 
from his maternal grandfather, was not a very common one 
in Rome (it must be admitted there is another Romulus, 
ii. 14). And is there not something rather peculiar in 
the entire absence of all titles of honour, the super- 
scription being simply ' Romulo Theodoricus Rex,' as if 
neither King nor scribe quite knew how to address an 
ex-Emperor ?] 

' The liberality of the Prince must be kept firm and Gifts to 
unshaken by the arts of malignant men. Therefore any ghall not 
gift which shall be proved to have been given accord- be^ 
ing to our orders by the Patrician Liberius, to you or 
to your mother, by written instrument (pictacium or 
pittacium), shall remain in full force, and you need not 
fear its being questioned.' 

[For Liberius, see ii. 16. A man of that eminence, 
who was employed to arrange disputes between the 

216 Cassiodori Variae. 

Goths and Romans at the first settlement of the former 
in Italy, was the very man to be also employed to 
arrange terms with Augustulus. There is some reason 
to think that the mother of the deposed Emperor was 
named Barbaria, and that she is mentioned in the his- 
tory of the translation of the relics of St. Severinus. 
See 'Italy and her Invaders' iii. 190.] 


Com- ' Firminus alleges that he has some cause of complaint 

against against the Magnificent Venantius [son of Liberius, 
Venan- mentioned in the previous letter, and strongly commended 
in ii. 15], and that Venantius treats his claims with 
contempt. There is always a danger of justice being 
wrested in the interests of the great. We therefore 
desire you with all due reverence to address the afore- 
said Magnificent person and desire him to appoint a 
representative, with proper credentials, to plead in our 
Court in answer to the claims of Firminus, who will be 
punished for his audacity if he have brought a false 
charge against so illustrious a person.' 

[This and the preceding letter look as if the fortunes 
of the house of Liberius (so greatly extolled in ii. 15 
and 1 6) were passing under a cloud. See also iii. 8, as 
to the disgrace of Venantius. This may have made 
the ex-Emperor anxious as to the validity of the settle- 
ment made through him.] 


Alleged [See the full explanation of this letter in Dahn, ' Konige 
ofT tice der Germanen' iii. 193-4. Cf. also Var. iii. 14. Observe 
Bishop, how the marginal note (in the edition of the Bene- 

Book III. Letters 36-39. 217 

dictine, Garet) strains the doctrine of this letter in 
favour of the clergy 1 .] 

'Germanus, in his "flebilis allegatio," informs us that 
you detain from him a part of the property of his father 
Thomas. As it is proper that causes which concern you 
should first be remitted to you (so often employed as 
judges to settle the disputes of others), we call upon 
you to enquire into this claim, and if it be a just one 
to satisfy it. Know that if you fail to do justice your- 
self to the petitioner, his cause will be carried through 
to our own audience-chamber.' 


' Our Piety wishes that there should be order and good The 
government everywhere in our dominions, but espe- troops' at 
cially in Gaul, that our new subjects there may form Avignon 
a good opinion of the ruler under whom they have B t a in 
come. Therefore by this authority we charge you to j^ 1110 ' 
see that no violence happen in Avignon where you the citi- 
reside. Let our army live " civiliter " with the Romans, zens ' 
and let the latter feel that our troops are come for their 
defence, not for their annoyance.' 

(A.D. 511). 

' Those who minister to the pleasures of the public Largesse 
should be liberally treated, and the Consul must notj e( f r ~ g 
belie the expectations of his generosity which have been of Milan, 
formed when he was Senator. Therefore let your Sub- 
limity enquire into the petition for largesse presented 
by the charioteers of Milan; and if their statements 
are correct, let them have whatever it has been cus- 

1 ' Causae sacerdotum a sacerdotibus debent terminari.' 

2 Probably a Gothic officer. 

218 Cassiodori Variae. 

ternary for them to receive. In matters of this kind 
custom creates a kind of debt.' 


Immu- 'We wish promptly to relieve all the distresses of 
taxes m our subjects, and we therefore at once announce to you 
fordis- that the districts ravaged by the incursions of the 
ravaged enemy will not be called upon to pay tribute at the 
by war. fourth Indiction [Sept. 510, to Aug. 511]. For we 
have no pleasure in receiving what is paid by a heavy- 
hearted contributor. The part of the country, however, 
which has been untouched by the enemy will have 
to contribute to the expense of our army. But a 
hungry defender is a weak defender.' 

[Governor of Gothic Gaul 1 ]. 

Com for ' A burden borne in common is lightened, since only 

rison? 1 *' ^ ne e( ^g e as ^ were f ^ ne whole rests on the shoulders 

on the of each individual. We have ordered the corn for the 

e * army to be carried from the granaries of Marseilles to 

the forts upon the Durance. Let all unite in this toil. 

The willing labour of many brings a speedy end to the 


[This letter, as showing that at least one if not both 
banks of the Durance were included in the Ostrogothic 
Monarchy in 5 11 ? nas an important bearing on the 
geographical extent of the Burgundian Kingdom. See 
Exkurs vi. to Binding's 'Burgundisch-Romanische K6- 
nigreich.' He makes the northern bank of the 
Durance belong to Burgundy, the southern to the 

1 See Letters iii. 16 and 32. 

Book III. Letters 40-43. 219 


' Because the generosity of the Prince should even NO part 
outrun the petitions of his subjects we repeal that^^ ul 
part of a previous letter [iii. 40] which says that the called 
unravaged portion of the Province of Gaul must pay ^tary 
the expenses of our soldiers. We will transmit to the contri- 
Duces and Praepositi sufficient money to provide 
" alimonia nostris Gothis." ' 

[' Praebendae,' near the end of this letter, seems to 
be used in a technical sense, almost equivalent to sti- 
pendia or annonae.] 


[No doubt a high officer in the Royal household.] 
' We dejight_to liveafter the__law ofjbhe Romans, Eun- 
whom we seek to defend with our arms ; and we are JjJ^ 
as much Interested in "the maintenance of morality as to be re- 
we can possibly rJ 5e"in war. (For what profit is there totheir 
in having removed the turmoil of the Barbarians, unless owners. 
we live according io^ law. '$ Certain slaves, on our 
army's entry into Gaul, have run away from their 
old masters and betaken t-bpimflplvfji to "^w o.nes. Let 
them be restored to their rightful owners. Rights 
must not be confounded under the rule of justice, nor 
ought the defender of liberty jo jfavour recreant slaves. 
[Probably an allusion to the office of the Assertor 
Libertatis in the Liberalis Causa, as set forth in the 
Theodosian Code iv. 8.] Let other kings desire the 
glory of battles won, of cities taken, of ruins made ; 
our purpose is, GodTielging usTso to rule that our 
subjects shall grieve that they did not earlier acquire 
the blessing of our dominion.' 

220 Cassiodori Variae. 


Kepair of ' We wish to refresh men, but to repair cities also, 
Aries, f tnat the renewe( i fortune of the citizens may be dis- 
and sup- played by the splendour of their buildings. 
corn * We have therefore directed that a certain sum of 

money be sent for the repair of the walls and old 
towers of Aries. But we are also going to send you, 
as soon as the time is favourable for navigation, pro- 
visions to supply the waste caused by the war. Be of 
good cheer, therefore! Grain for which our word is 
pledged is as good as grain already in your granaries.' 


Site dis- ' It is represented to us by the Defensors of the 

between " sacrosanct " Roman Church that Pope Simplicius, of 

Koman blessed memory, bought a house at Rome 1 of Eufrasius 

andSa- the Acolyte, with all proper formalities, and that now 

mantans. fa Q people of the Samaritan superstition, hardened in 

effrontery, allege that a synagogue of theirs was built 

on that site, and claim it accordingly ; whereas the 

very style of building, say their opponents, shows 

that this was meant as a private house and not as a 

synagogue. Enquire into. this matter, and do justice 

accordingly. If we will not tolerate chicanery [calum- 

niae] against men, much less will we against the Divinity 




ment 'The crimes of subjects are an occasion for mani- 

Venan- f es ^ n g the virtues of princes. You have addressed to 
tius. us your petition, alleging that you were compelled 


1 ' In sacratissima urbe.' 

Book III. Letters 44-46. 221 

by the Spectabilis Venantius, Governor of Lucania and 
Bruttii, to confess yourself guilty of the rape of the 
maiden Valeriana. 

* Overcome, you say, by the severity of your im- Illogical 
prisonment and the tortures inflicted upon you, and f^ 11 
longing for death as a release from agony ; being more- <*** of 
over refused the assistance of Advocates, while the 
utmost resources of rhetoric were at the disposal of 
your opponents, you confessed a crime which you had 
never committed. 

' Such is your statement. The Governor of Bruttii 
sends his relatio in opposition, saying that we must 
not give credence to a petitioner who is deceitfully 
seeking to upset a sentence which was given in the 
interests of public morality. 

' Our decision is that we will by our clemency miti- 
gate the severity of your punishment. From the date 
of this decree you shall be banished for six months ; and 
on your return no note of infamy of any kind shall be 
attached to you ; since it is competent for the Prince to 
wipe off all the blots on a damaged reputation. Any- 
one who offends against this decree [by casting your 
old offence in your teeth] shall be fined ^12,0 (3lbs. of 
gold). And all who are accused of the same offence 
in any place or time, but who offended through igno- 
rance, are to be freed from all fear of punishment.' 

[A most illogical and unjust conclusion, by which 
the judgment of Venantius is in fact neither upheld 
nor reversed. And what the meaning of the concluding 
sentence may be it is impossible to conjecture. See 
Dahn, 'Konige der Germanen' iii. 107, on this absurd 

On the subject of the misgovernment and disgrace 
of Venantius, cf. Letters ii. 15, 16 ; iii. 8, 36. Cf. also 
Procopius, 'De Bello Gotthico' iii. 18 and 22, as to 
his son Tullianus. In connection with the alleged 
misgovernment of Bruttii and Lucania by Venantius, 

222 Cassiodori Variae. 

remember the close connection of Cassiodorus himself 
with those Provinces.] 


Jovinus, ' Jovinus the Curialis, according to the report of the 
ing a lU " Corrector of Lucania and Bruttii, had an angry alter- 
feiiow cation with a fellow Curial (collega), and in his rage 

Curial, is -, , . 
banished s kw him. 

to the < He then took refuge within the precincts of a church, 

Lipari, and refused to surrender himself to justice. We decide 

canoofof ^t *ke ca Pital punishment shall be remitted out of 

which reverence for his place of refuge, but he shall be 

scribed, banished to the Vulcanian [Lipari] Islands, there to 

live away from the paternal hearth, but ever in the 

midst of burning, like a salamander, which is a small 

and subtile beast, of kin to the slippery worm, clothed 

with a yellow colour. 

' The substance of volcanoes, which is perpetually de- 
stroyed, is by the inextricable power of Nature per- 
petually renewed. 

'The Vulcanian Islands are named from Vulcan, the 
god of fire, and burst into eruption on the day when 
Hannibal took poison at the Court of Prusias. It is 
especially wonderful that a mountain kindling into such 
a multitude of flames, should yet be half hidden by the 
waves of the sea.' 


"EVvn-f *fi 

cation of 'It is the duty and the glory of a ruler to provide 

w * se f re thought for the safety of his subjects. 
Tyrol. We have therefore ordered the Sajo Leodifrid that 

1 The double 'r' seems to be the correct spelling, though the MSS. of 
the Variarum apparently have the single ' r.' 

Book III. Letters 47-48. 223 

under his superintendence you should build yourselves 
houses in the fort Verruca, which from its position 
receives its most suitable name 1 . 

1 For it is in the midst of the plains a hill of stone 
roundly arising, which with its tall sides, being bare 
of woods, is all one great mountain fortress. Its lower 
parts are slenderer (graciliora) than its summit, and 
like some softest fungus the top broadens out, while 
it is thin at bottom. It is a mound not made by 
soldiers 2 , a stronghold made safe by Nature 3 , where 
the besieger can try no coup-de-main and the besieged 
need feel no panic. Past this fort swirls the Adige, that 
prince of rivers, with the pleasant gurgle of his clear 
waters, affording a defence and an adornment in one. 
It is a fort almost unequalled in the whole world, " a 
key that unlocks a kingdom 4 ;" and all the more im- 
portant because it bars the invasion of wild and 
savage nations. This admirable defence what inha- 
bitant would not wish to share, since even foreigners 
delight to visit it? and though by God's blessing 
we trust that the Province [of Eaetia] is in our 
times secure, yet it is the part of prudence to guard 
against evils, though we may think they will not 

Examples of gulls, who fly inland when they foresee 
a storm ; of dolphins, which seek the shallower waters ; 
of the edible sea-urchin, * that honey of flesh, that 
dainty of the deep,' who anchors himself to a little 
pebble to prevent being dashed about by the waves; 
of birds, who change their dwellings when winter draws 
nigh ; of beasts, who adapt their lair to the time of year. 
And shall man alone be improvident? Shall he not 

1 'Milites ad Verrucam illam sic enim M. Cato locum editum as- 
perumque appellat ire jubeas ' (Gell. 3. 7. 6). Verruca therefore means 
primarily a steep cliff, and only secondarily a wart. See White and 
Eiddell, s.v. 

2 'Agger sine pugna.' 3 ' Obsessio secura.' 
4 ' Tenens claustra provinciae.' 

224 Oassiodori Variae. 

imitate that higher Providence by which the world is 
governed ? 

[The fortress of Verruca does not seem to be men- 
tioned in the ' Notitia,' in the Antonine ' Itinerary,' or 
by the geographer of Ravenna. 

Maffei ('Verona Hlustrata,' Book ix. Vol. 2, pp. 391-2 
in ed. 1825) comments on this passage, and argues 
that Verruca = Dos Trento, a cliff about a mile from 
Trient, and this identification seems to have been ac- 
cepted, for Ball ('Alpine Guide, Eastern Alps,' p. 404) 
says: 'In the centre of the valley, close to the city, 
rises a remarkable rock known as Dos Trento, and also 
called La Verruca, formerly frequented for the sake 
of the beautiful view which it commands. Since 
1857 it has been strongly fortified, and permission 
to ascend to the summit is not easily obtained.' 

Maffei says that the French bombarded Trient from 
this rock in 1703. He speaks of another 'Verruca, or 
Rocca,' on the other side of Aquileia, and thinks that 
the modern word 'rocca' (rock) may perhaps have been 
derived herefrom (?). 

It is remarkable that there is a place called Verrua 
near the Po in Piedmont (about so miles east of Turin). 
' Situated upon an abrupt and insulated hill, in a most 
defensible position, it opposed an obstinate resistance 
to the Emperor Frederick II. In more recent times 
(1704), the Due de Vendome attacked it without success' 
(Murray's 'Guide to Northern Italy,' p. 51). No doubt 
this was also originally called Verruca.] 


Kepair ' It is a great delight to the Ruler when his subjects of 

theatre of ^eir own accor d suggest that which is for the good of 

Catana. the State. You have called our attention to the ruinous 

state of your walls, and ask leave to use for its repair 

Book III. Letters 49-50. 225 

the stones of the amphitheatre, which have fallen 
down from age and are now of no ornament to your 
town, in fact only show disgraceful ruins. You have 
not only our permission to do this, but our hearty 
approval. Let the stones, which can be of no use 
while they lie there, rise again into the fabric of the 
walls ; and your improved defence will be our boast and 

[Some remains of the amphitheatre are still visible 
at Catania ; not, however, so important as those of the 


' It is an admirable arrangement when a favour can The Ala- 
be conferred by which grver and receiver are alike jJJj^jJo- 
benefited. ricans to 

1 We therefore decree that you should exchange your thei 
oxen for those of the Alamanni. cattle. 

'Theirs is the finer and larger breed of cattle, but 
they are worn out by the long journey. Thus will 
they get fresh beasts capable of doing the work 
which is required of them, and you will permanently 
improve your breed of cattle, and so be able to till 
your fields better. Thus, what does not often happen, 
the same transaction will equally benefit both parties 
to it.' 

[Cf. ii. 41 as to these Alamannic exiles. Possibly this 
letter as well as that refers to their expulsion by Clovis 
(cir. 504) ; but it seems more probable, as von Schubert 
suggests (pp. 52-54), that we have here to do with a 
removal of some of the Alamannic subjects of Theodoric 
from Raetia to Noricum, in order to guard the north- 
east frontier of the kingdom.] 

226 Cassiodori Variae. 


Stipend 'Constancy in actors is not a very common virtue, 
Thomas ^ nere f re with all the more pleasure do we record the 
the Cha- faithful allegiance of Thomas the Charioteer, who came 
Descrip- l n g a g from the East hither, and who, having become 
tion of champion charioteer, has chosen to attach himself to "the 
Circus, seat of our Empire 1 ;" and we therefore decide that he shall 
be rewarded by a monthly allowance. He embraced what 
was then the losing side in the chariot races and carried it 
to victory victory which he won so often that envious 
rivals declared that he conquered by means of witchcraft. 
'The sight of a chariot-race (spectaculum) drives out 
morality and invites the most trifling contentions ; it is 
the emptier of honourable conduct, the ever-flowing 
spring of squabbles : a thing which Antiquity com- 
menced as a matter of religion, but which a quarrelsome 
posterity has turned into a sport. 

'For Aenomaus is said first to have exhibited this 
sport at Elis, a city of Asia (?), and afterwards Komulus, 
at the time of the rape of the Sabines, displayed it in 
rural fashion to Italy, no buildings for the purpose being 
yet founded. Long after, Augustus, the lord of the world, 
raising his works to the same high level as his power, 
built a fabric marvellous even to Romans, which stretched 
far into the Vallis Murcia. This immense mass, firmly 
girt round with hills, enclosed a space which was fitted 
to be the theatre of great events. 

'Twelve Ostia at the entrance represent the twelve 
signs of the Zodiac. These are suddenly and equally 
opened by ropes let down by the Hermulae (little pilas- 
ters) 2 . The four colours worn by the four parties of 

1 ' Nostri sedes delegit fovere Imperii? 

2 The Ostia are denoted by A and the Hermulae by H in the accom- 

panying plan. (See page 230.) 

Book III. Letter 51. 227 

charioteers denote the seasons : green for verdant spring, 
blue for cloudy winter, red for flaming summer, white 
for frosty autumn. Thus, throughout the spectacle we 
see a determination to represent the works of Nature. 
The Biga is made in imitation of the moon, the Quadriga 
of the sun. The circus horses (Equi desultorii), by means 
of which the servants of the Circus announce the heats 
(Missos) that are to be run, imitate the herald-swift- 
ness of the morning star. Thus it came to pass that 
while they deemed they were worshipping the stars, 
they profaned their religion by parodying it in their 

' A white line is drawn not far from the ostia to each 
Podium (balcony), that the contest may begin when the 
quadrigae pass it, lest they should interrupt the view of 
the spectators by their attempts to get each before the 
other 1 . There are always seven circuits round the 
goals (Metae) to one heat, in analogy with the days of 
the week. The goals themselves have, like the decani 2 
of the Zodiac, each three pinnacles, round which the 
swift quadrigae circle like the sun. The wheels indi- 
cate the boundaries of East and West. The channel 
(Euripus) which surrounds the Circus presents us with 
an image of the glassy sea, whence come the dolphins 
which swim hither through the waters 3 (?). The lofty 
obelisks lift their height towards heaven; but the upper 
one is dedicated to the sun, the lower one to the moon : 
and upon them the sacred rites of the ancients are in- 
dicated with Chaldee signs for letters 4 . 

1 ' Ut quadrigis progredientibus, inde certamen oriretur : ne dum semper 
propere conantur elidere, spectandi voluptatem viderentur populis abro- 
gare.' In fact, to compel the charioteers to start fair. 

a Each sign of the Zodiac was considered to have three decani, occurring 
at intervals of ten days. 

3 'Unde illuc delphini aequorei aquas interfluunt.' The sentence is very 
obscure, but the allusion must be to the dolphins, the figures of which were 
placed upon the spina. 

4 ' Obeliscorum quoque prolixitates ad coeli altitudinem sublevantur: sed 

Q 2 

228 Cassiodori Variae. 

. ( The Spina (central wall, or backbone) represents the 
lot of the unhappy captives, inasmuch as the generals 
of the Eomans, marching over the backs of their ene- 
mies, reaped that joy which was the reward of their 
labours. The Mappa (napkin), which is still seen to 
give the signal at the games, came into fashion on this 
wise. Once when Nero was loitering over his dinner, 
and the populace, as usual, was impatient for the spec- 
tacle to begin, he ordered the napkin which he had 
used for wiping his fingers to be thrown out of window, 
as a signal that he gave the required permission. Hence 
it became a custom that the display of a napkin gave a 
certain promise of future circenses. 

' The Circus is so called from " circuitus :" circenses is, 
as it were, circu-enses, because in the rude ages of 
antiquity, before an elaborate building had been pre- 
pared for the purpose, the races were exhibited on the 
'green grass, and the multitude were protected by the 
river on one side and the swords (enses) of the soldiers 
on the other 1 . 

' We observe, too, that the rule of this contest is 
that it be decided in twenty-four heats 2 , an equal num- 
ber to that of the hours of day and night. Nor let 
it be accounted meaningless that the number of circuits 
round the goals is expressed by the putting up of eggs 3 , 

potior soli, inferior lunae dicatus est : ubi sacra priscorum Chaldaicis signis, 
quasi litteris indicant ur.' 

1 I can extract no other meaning than the above from this extraordinary 
sentence : ' Circenses, quasi circu-enses : propterea quod apud antiquitatem 
rudem, quae necdum spectacula in ornatum deduxerat fabricarum, inter 
enses et flumina locis virentibus agerentur.' 

z Missibus. In a previous sentence Cassiodorus makes the ace. plural missos. 

3 The number of times that the charioteers had rounded the goal was 
indicated by large wooden eggs, which were posted up in a conspicuous 
place on the spina. It seems that in a corresponding place near the other 
end of the spina figures of dolphins were used for the same purpose. Upon 
the Cilurnum gem (figured on page 231) we can perceive four eggs near 
one end of the spina, and four creatures which may be dolphins near 
the other, indicating that four circuits out of the seven which constitute 
a missus have been accomplished by the quadrigae. 

Book III. Letter 51. 229 

since that emblem, pregnant as it is with many super- 
stitions 1 , indicates that something is about to be born 
from thence. And in truth we may well understand 
that the most fickle and inconstant characters, well 
typified by the birds who have laid those eggs, will 
spring from attendance on these spectacles 2 . It were 
long to describe in detail all the other points of the 
Roman Circus, since each appears to arise from some 
special cause. This only will we remark upon as pre- 
eminently strange, that in these beyond all other spec- 
tacles men's minds are hurried into excitement without 
any regard to a fitting sobriety of character. The Green 
charioteer flashes by: part of the people is in despair. 
The Blue gets a lead: a larger part of the City is in 
misery. They cheer frantically when they have gained 
nothing; they are cut to the heart when they have 
received no loss ; and they plunge with as much eager- 
ness into these empty contests as if the whole welfarpr 
of the imperilled fatherland were at stake. 

c No wonder that such a departure from all sensible 
dispositions should be attributed to a superstitious 
origin. We are compelled to support this institution 
by the necessity of humouring the majority of the peo- 
ple, who are passionately fond of it; for it is always 
the few who are led by reason, while the many crave 
excitement and oblivion of their cares. Therefore, as we 
too must sometimes share the folly of our people, we will 
freely provide for the expenses of the Circus, however 
little our judgment approves of this institution.' 

[Notwithstanding some absurdities, the above de- 
scription of the Circus Maximus (which I have at- 
tempted to translate in full) is of great value, being, 
after that given by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, our 

1 Alluding probably to the story of Castor and Pollux. 

2 ' Et ideo datur intelligi, volitantes atque inconstantissimos inde mores 
nasci, quos avium matribus aptaverunt.' Ovium would seem to give a 
better sense than avium. 


Cassiodori Variae. 

chief authority on the subject. The accompanying plan 
(taken, with some slight variations, from Smith's 'Dic- 
tionary of Antiquities'), will, I trust, render it intelligible. 

Plan of Ancient Circus. 

It is well illustrated by the recently excavated ' Stadium 
of Augustus,' on the Palatine ; but perhaps even better 
by a beautifully executed gem lately found at Chesters 

Book III. Letters 51-52. 


in Northumberland, on the site of the Koman sta- 
tion at Cilurnum. By the kindness of the owner, 
Mr. Clayton, I am able to give an enlarged copy of this 
gem, which is described in the ' Archaeologia Aeliana,' 
vol. x. pp. 133-137. 

The Circus Maximus, a magnified engraving of an intaglio on a carnelian 
signet-ring found at Cilurnum (Chesters in Northumberland) in 1882. 

The reader will easily discern the Spina with one 
obelisk (not two, as described by Cassiodorus) in the 
centre, the high tables supported by pillars on which 
the Ova and Delphini are placed, the three spindle- 
shaped columns which formed the Met a at each end, 
and the four quadrigae (four was the regular number 
for each missus) careering in front.] 


* We are sorry to hear that a dispute (which is on the On Bo- 
point of being settled by arms instead of by the law) has v n 
arisen between the Spectabiles Leontius and Paschasius in g- 

232 Cassiodori Variae. 

as to the boundaries of their properties 1 . If they are 
so fierce against one another here in Italy, where there 
are mountains and rivers and the "arcaturae" [square 
turrets of the land surveyor] to mark the boundaries, 
what would they have done in Egypt, where the yearly 
returning waters of the Nile wash out all landmarks, 
and leave a deposit of mud over all ? 

' Geometry was discovered by the Chaldaeans, who per- 
ceived that its principles lay at the root of Astronomy, 
Music, Mechanics, Architecture, Medicine, Logic, and 
every science which deals with generals. This science 
was eagerly welcomed by the Egyptians, who perceived 
the advantage it would be to them in recovering the 
boundaries of estates obliterated by the wished-for 
deluge 2 of the Nile. 

'Therefore let your Greatness send an experienced 
land surveyor (agrimensor) to settle this dispute by 
assigning fixed boundaries to the two estates. 

' Augustus made a complete survey of the whole " Orbis 
Romanus," in order that each taxpayer should know 
exactly his resources and obligations. The results of 
this survey were tabulated by the author Hyrummetri- 
cus. The Professors of this Science [of land surveying] 
are honoured with a more earnest attention than falls 
to the lot of any other philosophers. Arithmetic, Theo- 
retical Geometry, Astronomy, and Music are discoursed 
upon to listless audiences, sometimes to empty benches. 
But the land surveyor is like a judge; the deserted fields 
become his forum, crowded with eager spectators. You 
would fancy him a madman when you see him walking 
along the most devious paths. But in truth he is seeking 
for the traces of lost facts in rough woods and thickets 3 . 

1 ' Casarum.' Casa is evidently no longer a cottage ; perhaps the estate 
attached to a villa. There is probably still a flavour of rusticity about it. 

2 f Votiva inundatione.' 

3 An excellent description of an antiquary walking along a Roman 
* Limes Imperil .' 

Book III. Letters 52-53. 233 

He walks not as other men walk. His path is the 
book from which he reads ; he shows what he is say- 
ing ; he proves what he hath learned ; by his steps 
he divides the rights of hostile claimants ; and like a 
mighty river he takes away the fields of one side to 
bestow them on the other. 

' Wherefore, acting on our instructions, choose such a 
land surveyor, whose authority may be sufficient to settle 
this dispute, that the litigants may henceforth cultivate 
their lands in peace.' 


c Your Greatness tells us that a water-finder has come On 
to Rome from Africa, where, on account of the dryness 
of the soil, his art is greatly in request. 

'We are glad to hear it. It is a very useful 

' Signs of the existence of water are the greenness of 
the grass, the size of the trees, the nature of the plants, 
reeds, rushes, brambles, willows, poplars, &c. Some dis- 
cover water by putting out dry wool under a bowl at 
night. So too, if you see at sunrise a cloud [or gossa- 
mer, ' spissitudinem '] of very small flies. A mist rising 
like a column shows water as deep below as the column 
rises high above. 

' The water-finder will also predict the quality of the 
water, and so prevent you from wasting labour on a 
brackish spring. This science was ably treated of by 
- 1 , and by Marcellus among the Latins. They 
tell us that waters which gush forth towards the east 
and south are light and wholesome; that those which 

1 Apud Graecos ille' Cassiodorus has left the name blank, and has 
either forgotten or been unable to fill it up; like the 'ille et ille' in his 
State documents. 

234 CctsSsiodori Variae. 

emerge towards the north and west are too cold and 

'So then, if the testimonials of the aforesaid water- 
finder and the results of his indications shall approve 
themselves to your wisdom, you may pay his travelling 
expenses and relieve his wants : he having to repay you 
by his future services. For though Rome itself is so abun- 
dantly supplied with aqueducts, there are many sub- 
urban places in which his help would be very useful. 
Associate with him also a mechanician who can sink 
for and raise the water when he has pointed it out. 
Borne ought not to lack anything which is an object 
of desire.' 




'DESIRING to unite you to ourselves by the bonds of Marriage 
kindred, we bestow upon you our niece [Amalabirga, d ric's~ 
daughter of Theodoric's sister; see 'Anon, \alesii' 70], 'niece to 
so that you, who descend from a Royal stock, may now O f *the ing 
far more conspicuously shine by the splendour of T . hurin - 
Imperial blood l '. [A remarkable passage, as showing 
that Theodoric did in a sense consider himself to be 
filling the place of the Emperors of the West.] 

The virtues and intellectual accomplishments of the 
new Queen of the Thuringians are described. 

'We gladly acknowledge the price of a favour, in 
itself beyond price, which, according to the custom of 
the nations, we have received from your ambassadors : 
namely, a team of horses, silvery in colour, as wedding- 
horses should be. Their chests and thighs are suit- 
ably adorned with round surfaces of flesh. Their ribs 
are expanded to a certain width. They are short in the 
belly. Their heads have a certain resemblance to the 
stag, the swiftness of which animal they imitate. These 
horses are gentle from their extreme plumpness ; very 
swift notwithstanding their great bulk ; pleasant to look 

1 ' Nunc etiam longius claritate Imperialis sanguinis fulgeatis.' 

236 Cassiodori Variae. 

at, still better to use. For they have gentle paces, not 
fatiguing their riders by insane curvetings. To ride 
them is repose rather than toil ; and being broken-in to a 
delightful and steady pace, they can keep up their speed 
over long distances. 

' We too are sending you some presents, but our niece 
is the fairest present of all. May God bless you with 
children, so that our lines may be allied in future.' 


[Adopting him as his son by right of arms.] 
Hermin- 'It has been always held amongst the nations a great 
adopted honour to be adopted as " films per arma." Our children 
as ' filius by nature often disappoint our expectations, but to say 

per arma ' .7,7 . -, 

by Theo- that we esteem a man ^vorthy to be our son is indeed 
doric. praise. As such, after the manner of the nations and in 
manly fashion, do we now beget you 1 . 

1 We send you horses, spears, and shields, and the rest 
of the trappings of the warrior ; but above all we send 
you our judgment that you are worthy to be our son 2 . 
Highest among the nations will you be considered who 
are thus approved by the mind of Theodoric. 

'And though the son should die rather than see his 
father suffer aught of harm, we in adopting you are also 
throwing round you the shield of our protection. The 
Heruli have known the value of Gothic help in old times, 
and that help will now be yours. A and B, the bearers 
of these letters, will explain to you in Gothic (patrio 
sermone) the rest of our message to you 3 .' 

1 Notice the strong expression, 'Et ide^o more gentium et conditione 
virili filium te praesenti munere procreamus.' 

2 * Damus quidem tibi equos, enses clypeos, et reliqua instrument** bel- 
lorum, sed quae sunt omnimodis fortiora, largimur tibi nostra judicia.' 

3 In 512, says Marcellinus Comes, 'Gens Erulorum in terras atque 
civitates Komanorum jussu Anastasii Caesaris introducta.' But what 
relation that entry of the Heruli into Roman territory may bear to this 
letter is a very difficult question. See Dahn, Konige der Germanen ii. 8, 
n. 2. 

Book IV. Letters 2-4. 237 



[Conferring upon him the dignity of ' Comitiva 

< The master's fame is enhanced by choosing the right Senarius 
persons for his servants. The Sovereign ought to pro- ^omes 
mote such persons that whenever he condescends to Patri- 
behold them he may feel that his judicia 1 have been m 
justified. We therefore hereby bestow upon you, for the 
fourth Indiction [Sept. i, 510], the Illustrious dignity 
of Comes of our Patrimony.' > 

Services of Senarius as a diplomatist, in standing up j\S 
against Barbarian Kings and subduing their intellects ^ 
to the moderate counsels of Theodoric 2 . 

His success as an advocate 3 . The charm of his pro- \ 
nunciation. His purity of morals ; his popularity with 
high and low. He is exhorted still to cultivate these dis- 
positions, and to win favour for his office by his affable 



[Announcing the promotion of Senarius, conferred in 
the preceding letter.] 

Describes the merits of the new Comes, who when On the 
young in years but mature in merit had entered the 
service of the Palace ; his diplomatic career 4 and his 

1 Same expression as in preceding letter. 

2 ' Subiisti saepe arduae legationis officium. Eestitisti regibus non impar 
assertor, coactus justitiam nostram et illis ostendere, qui rationem vix 
poterant cruda obstinatione sentire. Non te terruit contentionibus inflam- 
mata regalis auctoritas,' etc. 

3 ' Usus es sub exceptionis officio eloquentis ingenio.' ' Exceptio' is a law 
term, the defendant's answer to the plaintiff's bill ; but is it so used here? 

4 Again we have ' exceptiones' mentioned (see preceding letter). ' Nunc 

238 Cassiodori Variae. 

moderation and reserve in the midst of success, although 
naturally 'joy is a garrulous thing,' and it is difficult for 
men who are carrying all before them to restrain the 
expression of their exaltation. 

Compliments to the Senate, who are invited to give a 
hearty welcome to the new comer. 


Supply ' Having heard that there is dearth in our Gaulish 

visions to Provinces we direct your Devotion to take bonds from 

famine- the shipmasters along the whole western coast of Italy 

Provinces (Lucania, Campania, and Thuscia) that they will go with 

of Gaul, supplies of food only to the Gauls, having liberty to 

dispose of their cargoes as may be agreed between buyer 

and seller. They will find their own profit in this, for 

there is no better customer for a corn-merchant than a 

hungry man. He looks on all his other possessions as 

dross if he can only supply the cravings of necessity. He 

who is willing to sell to a man in this condition almost 

seems to be giving him what he needs, and can very 

nearly ask his own price.' 

[It will be seen that in this letter there is no attempt 
to fix a maximum price, only to prescribe the kind 
of cargo, 'victuales species,' which is to be carried to 


The sons ' The Spectabilis Valerian, who lives at Syracuse, wishes 
riaTtobe ^ re ^ urn thither himself, but that his sons, whom he has 
detained brought to Kome for their education, may be detained in 

. . * , /-* , 

that City. 

ad colloquia dignus, nunc ad exceptiones aptissimus, frequenter etiam in 
legationis honorem electus.' 

1 Probably this epithet means that Amabilis was a Sajo. 

Book IV. Letters 5-7. 239 

* Let your Magnificence therefore not allow them to 
leave the aforesaid City till an order has been obtained 
from us to that effect. Thus will their progress in their 
studies be assured, and proper reverence be paid to our 
command. And let none of them think this a burden, 
which should have been an object of desire l . To no 
one should Rome be disagreeable, for she is the common 
country of all, the fruitful mother of eloquence, the 
broad temple of the virtues : it is a striking mark of our 
favour to assign such a City as a residence to any of our 
subjects V 


' Any calamity which comes upon a man from causes Losses 
beyond his control ought not to be imputed to him as a 
fault. The pathetic petition of the Superintendents of b 
Grain 3 informs us that the cargoes which they destined 
for Gaul have perished at sea. we *f. 

' The framework of the timbers of the ships gaped under P ro- 
the violence of the winds and waves, and from all that Q *JJJ nB to 
overabundance of water nothing remains to them but 
their tears. 

* Let your Sublimity therefore promptly refund to them 
the proportion (modiatio) which each of them can prove 
that he has thus lost. It would be cruel to punish them 
for having merely suffered shipwreck.' 

1 * Non ergo sihi putet impositum quod debuit esse votivum. Nulli sit 
ingrata Roma, quae dici non potest aliena. Ilia eloquentiae foecunda 
mater, ilia virtutum omnium latissimum templum.' 

3 Cf. the very similar letter, i. 39. 

3 ' Prosecutores frumentorum.' It would seem that these are not mer- 
chants supplying the famine-stricken Provinces of Gaul as a private 
speculation (according to iv. 5), but public officers who have had certain 
cargoes of corn entrusted to them from the State magazines, and who, but 
for this letter, would be bound to make good the loss suffered under their 

240 Cassiodori Variae. 


Trans- ' You must not think anything which we order hard ; 
timber ^ or our commands are reasonable, and we know what 
ordered y OU ought to do. Your Devotion is therefore to cut 
suanum. timber and transport it to Alsuanum x , where you will be 
paid the proper price for it.' 


Tuitio [This letter is quoted by Dahn (' Konige der Germanen' 
nominis. "i. TI 7) as an illustration of 'tuitio regii nominis'~\ 

' Maurentius and Paula, who are left orphans, inform us 
that their youth and helplessness expose them to the 
attacks of many unscrupulous persons. 

'Let your Sublimity therefore cause it to be known that 
any suits against them must be prosecuted in our Comi- 
tatus, the place of succour for the distressed and of sharp 
punishment for tricksters. ' 



The law- [A custom had apparently grown up during the 

tom of S " l aw l ess years of the Fifth Century, of litigants helping 

Pignora- themselves, during the slow progress of the suit, to a 

be re-* ' material guarantee ' from the fields of their opponents. 

pressed. This custom, unknown apparently at the time of the 

Theodosian Code, was called * Pignoratio,' and was 

especially rife in the Provinces of Campania and 


' How does peace differ from the confusion of war, if 
law-suits are to be settled by violence 1 We hear with 
displeasure from our Provincials in Campania and Sam- 

Where is this ? 

Book IV. Letters 8-12. 241 

nium that certain persons there are giving themselves up 
to the practice of pignoratio. And so far has this gone 
that neighbours club together and transfer their claims 
to some one person who " pignorates " for the whole of 
them, thus in fact compelling a man to pay a debt to an 
entire stranger a monstrous perversion of all the rules 
of law, which separates so delicately between the rights 
even of near relations, and will not allow the son to be 
sued for the father's debts unless he is the heir, nor the 
wife for the husband's unless she has succeeded to the 
estate. Hitherto our ignorance has allowed this lawless 
practice to exist. Now that we know of it we are 
determined to suppress it. Therefore, firstly, if any man 
lays violent hands on any property to secure an alleged 
claim, he shall at once forfeit that claim [and restore the 
pignus]. Secondly, where one has "pignorated" for 
another, he shall be compelled to restore twofold the 
value of that which he has taken. Thirdly, if any 
offender is so poor and squalid that restitution cannot 
be compelled from him, he shall be beaten with clubs. ' 



' Let your Magnitude enquire into and decide promptly Dispute 
the dispute between the Possessores and Curiales of Velia.' J^J^ 
[A conjectural emendation for Volienses.] sores and 




' It is our purpose not only to defend by arms but to tamia's 
govern by just laws the Provinces which God has sub- p i a mt 
jectedtous. SSL 

'Archotamia, an illustrious lady who has lost hervagant 
grandson by death, complains that his widow Aetheria, ^j^JT 
having married again with a certain Liberius, is wasting grandson. 


242 Cassiodori Variae. 

the property of her children in order to make her new 
home appear more splendid. 

c Let your Sublimities enquire into this matter. After 
suppressing all violent action 1 , placing the holy Gospels 
in the midst of the Court, and calling in three honourable 
persons agreed upon by the parties, as assessors, decide 
with their help upon the matter according to ancient 
law, due reference being had to the arrangements of 
modern times.' 

[Theodoric says that in not hearing the case himself, 
but referring it to Marabad and Gemellus, he is follow- 
ing his usual practice, 'remittere ad statuta Divalium 
sanctionum ;' that is, apparently, according to the Theo- 
dosian Code. See Dahn, 'Konige der Germanen' iv. 
140, n. 2.] 


Supplies < L e t Colossaeus, who is sent as Governor to Pannonia 
saeusand Sirmiensis, have rations for himself and suite, according 
his suite. to ancient usage. [For his appointment, see Letters iii. 
23 and 34.] 

' A hungry army cannot be expected to preserve dis- 
cipline, since the armed man will always help himself 
to that which he requires. Let him have the chance of 
buying, that he may not be forced to think what he 
can plunder. Necessity loves not a law 2 , nor is it right 
to command the many to observe a moderation which 
even the few can barely practise.' 


tax by 

Goths in * It is a great offence to put off the burden of one's own 

debts upon other people. That man ought to pay the 
Thuscia. " tributum " for a property who receives the income of it. 

1 ' Omni incivilitate submota.' 

2 ' Necessitas moderamen non diligit.' 

Book IV. Letters 13-16. 243 

But some of the Goths in Picenum and the two Tus- 
canies 1 are evading the payment of their proper taxes 2 . 
This vicious practice must be suppressed at once, lest it 
spread by imitation. If anyone in a spirit of clownish 
stubbornness shall still refuse to obey our commands 
as expressed through you, affix the proper notice to his 
houses and confiscate them, that he who would not pay a 
small debt may suffer a great loss 3 . None ought to be 
more prompt in their payments to the exchequer than 
those [the Goths] who are the receivers of our donative. 
The sum thus given by our liberality is much more 
than they could claim as soldiers' pay. In fact we pay 
them a voluntary tribute by the care which we have 
of their fortunes.' 

* Being informed by the Illustrious and Magnificent New 
Count of the Patrimony that twenty -one of the Dro-tobe 
monarii [rowers in the express-boats] have been re- sheeted. 
moved by the inconvenient incident of death, we hereby qualifier 
charge you to select others to fill their places. But tlons * 
they must be strong men, for the toil of rowing requires 
powerful arms and stout hearts to battle with the 
stormy waves. For what is in fact more daring than 
with one's little bark to enter upon that wide and 
treacherous sea, which only despair enables a man 
successfully to combat ? ' 



ed with 
OF ROME. the 

' Some time ago we committed the government of our ^ r ^f t y f 
new Gaulish Provinces to Arigern, a member of your of Rome. 

1 ' Gothi per Picenum sive Thuscias utrasque residentes.' What are the 
two Thusciae ? 2 ' Debitas functiones.' 

3 ' Si quis ergo jussa nostra agresti spiritu resupinatus abjecerit, casas 
ejus appositis titulis fisci nostri juribus vindicabis ; tit qui juste noluit 
parva solvere, rationabiliter videatur maxima perdidisse.' 


244 Cassiodori Variae. 

body, that lie might by his firmness and prudence bring 
about a settlement in that agitated country. This he has 
accomplished to our entire satisfaction, and, practising 
the lessons which he learned in your midst, he has also 
brought back warlike trophies from thence. We now de- 
cide to bestow upon him the charge of the Roman order. 

* He is to see that the laws are vigorously adminis- 
tered, and that private revenge has no place. 

* Receive, O Conscript Fathers, your honoured and 
venerable member back into your bosom.' 

[It seems probable that Arigern was not appointed 
'Praefectus Urbis,' because in Letter iv. 11 he is asso- 
ciated as Comes with Argolicus, ' Praefectus Urbis.' Was 
he * Comes Urbis Romae ? '] 


[Cf. the name of our own Northumbrian King.] 
Posses- * We do not wish to disturb anything that has been 
the 18 f we ^ settled by a preceding King. Certain possessions 
Church of the Church of Narbonne, which were secured to it 
bonn^to ^J grant of the late King Alaric of exalted memory, 
here- have been wrongfully wrested from it. Do you now 
it. restore these. As you are illustrious in war, so be also 

excellent in "civilitas." The wrong-doers will not dare 
to resist a man of your well-known bravery.' 


A priest- ' Enquire if the story which is told us be true, namely 
y )U ' that the Presbyter Laurentius has been groping for 
fatal riches among human corpses. An odious inver- 
sion of his functions, that he who should preach peace 
to the living has been robbing the dead, and that hands 
which have been touched with the oil of consecration 
should have been grasping at unholy gains, instead of 
distributing his own honestly acquired substance to 

Book IV. Letters 17-21. 245 

the poor. If after diligent examination you find that 
the charge is true, you must make him disgorge the 
gold. As for punishment, for the sake of the honour 
of the priesthood we leave that to a higher Power V 


' The Prince should try to remedy the afflictions of his The Sili- 
subjects. Therefore, for the present time [probably on not^o 1 
account of the scarcity in Gaul], we decree that the tax of be levied 
Siliquaticum, which Antiquity ordained should be levied w i ne> an a 
on all buyings and sellings, shall not be levied on corn, a 
wine, and oil. We hope thus to stimulate trade, and to 
benefit not only the Provincials, who are our chief care, 
but also the merchants. Let the ship that traverses the 
seas not fear our harbours. Often the sailor dreads the 
rapacity of the collector of customs more than the 
danger of shipwreck. It shall not be so now.' 


' If we are willing to enrich the Church by our own Land 
liberality, d fortiori will we not allow it to be despoiled from tlie 
of the gifts received from pious princes in the past. Church 

' The supplication of the Venerable Bishop Constantius res tored 
informs us that a^u#um[=jugerum, about two-thirds of tolt - 
an English acre](bf4and so bestowed on the " sacrosanct" 
Church has been taken away from her, and is unlawfully 
held by the despoiler. 

' See that right is done, and that the Church has her 
own restored to her without any diminution.' 


' Be prompt in the execution of our orders. No one 
should think our commands harsh, since they are ex- required. 

1 ' Scelus enim, quod nos pro sacerdotali honore relinquimus impunitum, 
majori pondere credimus vindicandum.' The words seem to be purposely 
vague, but I think they allude to the judgment of Heaven on the offender. 

246 Cassiodori Variae. 

cused by the necessity of the times. [Reject the thought 
of all unjustly acquired gains, for] you are sure to 
receive from our favour all that you seem to lose by not 
yielding to temptation.' 



Roman These two letters relate to the affair of Basilius 1 and 
j^g^ 8 Praetextatus, men of high rank in Rome. They are 
of magic, accused of practising magical arts, and in the inter- 
val between the first and second letters they escape 
from prison by taking advantage of the insanity of the 

Theodoric, who says that he will not suffer any such 
acts of treason against the Divine Majesty, and that it 
is not lawful for Christian times to deal in magical arts, 
orders the recapture of the offenders, who are to be 
handed over to a Quinque-viral Board, consisting of 
the Patricians Symmachus, Decius, Volusianus, and 
Caelianus, with the Illustrious Maximian, and by them 
examined; if guilty to be punished (probably with 
confiscation and exile); if innocent, of course to be 
discharged 2 . 

1 Basilius, the patron of Sidonius, was Consul in 463, and another 
Basilius, perhaps the father of the accused, was Consul in 480. The person 
here spoken of may be the same as the Basilius, c olim regio ministerio de- 
pulsus,' whom Boethius (Phil. Cons. i. 4) mentions as one of his accusers ; 
but it seems more likely that in that case this imputation of magical prac- 
tices would also have been referred to by him. The name Basilius was a 
somewhat common one at this time. 

3 At the beginning of the first letter occurs the remarkable expression 

'Abscedat ritus de medio jam profanus; conticescat poenale murmur ani- 

marum,' which the commentator interprets of the ventriloquistic sounds 

produced by soothsayers. Cf. Milton's Christmas Hymn : 

'No voice or hideous hum 

Huns through the arched roof in words deceiving.' 

Book IV. Letters 22-25. 24? 

[The association of the Quinque-viri with the Prae- 
fectus Urbis is a mark of the high rank of the accused. 
The Praefectus Urbis could not adjudicate on the crimes 
of Senators without five Assessors chosen by lot from 
that body. Arigern, who was entrusted (it is not quite 
clear in what capacity) with the 'Disciplina Eomanae 
Civitatis,' is commissioned to bring the accused to trial. 
Baronius says that we do not hear whether they were 
ever re-captured.] 

[of Spoleto]. 

Gives leave to pull down a porticus behind the Baths ArcMtec- 
of Turasius at Spoleto, and to build some new edifice 

[perhaps a church] on its site and on the site of a yard at S P- 
(areola) adjoining it, on condition only that the building 
thus pulled down is of no public utility. 

Reflections on the duty of architectural restoration. 


[It is to be borne in mind that the Praefectus Urbis 
was the Official President of the Senate.] 

' Ambition ennobles man, and he who has aimed when Petras 
young at high honours is often stimulated to lead a scr ib e daa 
worthy life by the fact of having obtained them. We Senator, 
therefore look favourably on the petition of Petrus, 
illustrious by descent, and in gravity of character already 
a Senator, to enter the Sacred Order (the Senate) ; and 
we authorise your Illustrious Magnificence to inscribe 
his name, according to ancient custom, in the album of 
that body.' 

[A Petrus, probably the same as the subject of this 
letter, was Consul in 516.] 

248 Cassiodori Variae. 


Taxes re- Confirms all privileges and immunities granted by 

for a previous Princes, and remits the taxes (censum) for one 

year. year, a boon which they had not dared to ask for. 

' For that is perfect pietas, which before it is bent by 

prayer, knows how to consider the weary ones.' 

[Here, as in many other passages of Cassiodorus, pietas 
shows signs of passing into the Italian pietd (=pity).] 



Petrus [Duda was also a Sajo, as we see from Letter 32. 
by the Dahn ('Kb'nige der Germanen' iv. 142, n. 3) thinks he 
Sajo who was Comes Gothorum.l 

W3iS IS 

signed Both letters relate to the affair of Petrus (a Vir 
protect Spectabilis, and probably the same whose admission 
tion. to the Senate is ordered by iv. 25). 

This Roman nobleman, according to a usage common 
under Theodoric's government, has had the Gothic Sajo 
Amara assigned to him as his Defensor. Amara, by an 
inversion of his functions, which the letter bitterly 
laments and upbraids, has turned upon his protege and 
even used personal violence towards him. He has drawn 
a sword and wounded him in the hand; and nothing 
but the fact that Petrus was sheltered by a door saved 
him from losing his hand altogether. 

Yet, notwithstanding this assault, Amara has had the 
audacity to claim from his victim ' commodi nomine,' 
the usual payment made by the defended to the 

The first letter decrees that this shall be refunded 
twofold, and assigns Tezutzat instead of Amara to the 

Universis Massiliae constitutis.' A curious expression. 

Book IV. Letters 26-30. 249 

office of Defender, warning him not to follow the evil 
example of his predecessor. 

The second assigns to Duda the task of enquiring into 
the alleged assault and punishing it with the sword 1 . 



A sharp rebuke to him for having (if the suggestio Official 
of the Clarissimus Armentarius be correct) so long 
delayed, it is to be feared with a corrupt motive, com- 
plying with the instructions of the King to do justice 
in some case (not described) in which the honour of the 
Senate is concerned. As head of the Senate he ought 
to have been eager to examine into it, without any 
prompting from his master. 



' Those whom the Republic has honoured should in Work- 
their turn bring honour to the City. We are therefore ^y be 
gratified by receiving your supplication for leave to erected 
erect workshops 2 above the Porticus Curba, which t h e p or . 

being situated near the Domus Palmata, shuts in the 
Forum in comely fashion "in modum areae." We by the 
like the plan. The range of private dwellings will 
thereby be extended. A look of cheerful newness 
will be given to the old walls ; and the presence of 
residents in the building will tend to preserve it from 
further decay. You have our permission and encourage- 
ment to proceed, if the proposed erections do not in 

1 The story of this assault is a typical specimen of the style of Cassio- 
dorus, high-flown yet not really pictorial : ' Ita ut ictum gladii in se 
demersum, aliquatenus postium retardaret objectio : subjecta est vulneri 
manus, quae ut in totum truncata non caderet, januarum percussa robora 
praestiterunt : ubi lassato impetu corusca ferri acies corporis extrema 

2 Fabricae. 

250 Cassiodori Variae. 

any way interfere with public convenience or the beauty 
of the City.' 

[The MSS. of Cassiodorus waver between Curbae 
and Curiae in the above letter. Jordan (' Topographie 
der Stadt Rom.' i. 2. 258) inclines to the opinion that 
Porticus Curba denotes the Portico of the Secretarium 
of the Senate, on the site of the present Church of 
Sta. Martina. As the Curia immediately adjoined this 
building, there is practically but little difference be- 
tween the two readings. In either case the fabricae 
were to be erected so as to overlook the north-west 
end of the Forum. It is admitted that the Domus Pal- 
mata was near the Arch of Septiniius Seyerus.] 



An < Wise men should finish what they have begun, and not 

uc incur the reproach which attends half-done work. 

'Let your Holiness therefore promptly complete what 
by our authority you so well began in the matter of 
the aqueduct, and thus most fitly provide water for 
your thirsting flock, imitating by labour the miracle of 
Moses, who made water gush forth from the flinty rock.' 


are anx i us strictly to obey the laws, a 
no advantage over our subjects in cou 
justice. If a man knows that he can get his own 
property by legal process, even from the Sovereign, he is the 
scribed l ess likely to seek it by the armed hand. The memo- 
TiTha ran d um f Marinus informs us that the property of 
to be ' Tupha was long ago mortgaged to a certain Joannes \ 
wTtamo- ^ ut smce ^ * s q ui te clear that the property of a pro- 
deration. scribed man belongs to our fiscus, we desire you to 

1 ' Marini relatione comperimus res Tuphae apud Joannem quondam 
sub emiasione chirograph! fuisse depositas.' 

rights '^ e are anx i us strictly to obey the laws, and to 
of the take no advantage over our subjects in courts of 

Book IV. Letters 31-33. 251 

summon the widow of this Joannes and his secretary 
Januarius, "moderata executione." 

' If they acknowledge that they have no right to the 
property let them at once restore it; but if not, let 
them come before the Consularis of Campania and 
establish their right according to course of law. 

' But let all* be done without loss or prejudice to the 
rights of innocent persons. If any such charge be 
established against you, you will become the offender 
in our eyes.' 

[The description of Tupha as ' proscriptus ' makes it 
probable that we are dealing with that officer of Odo- 
vacar whose double treachery (489-490) so nearly caused 
the failure of Theodoric's invasion of Italy, and who 
finally fell in battle against his fellow-rebel, Frederic 
the Rugian. The only difficulty is the lapse of time 
since those events, as this letter was probably written 
not earlier than about 511 ; but that is in some degree 
met by the word quondam in the sentence quoted 
(n. i, p. 250).] 


' The true mark of civilitas is the observance of law. Privi- 
It is this which makes life in communities possible, and ^jew 
which separates man from the brutes. We therefore confirm- 
gladly accede to your request that all the privileges e 
which the foresight of antiquity conferred upon the 
Jewish customs shall be renewed to you 1 , for in truth 
it is our great desire that the laws of the ancients 
shall be kept in force to secure the reverence due to 
us 2 . Everything which has been found to conduce to 
civilitas should be held fast with enduring devotion.' . 

1 'Privilegia debere servari quae Judaicis institutis legum provida 
decrevit antiquitas.' 

2 ' Quod nos libenter annuimus qui jura veterum ad noatram cupimus 
reverentiam custodiri.' 


Cassiodori Variae. 


Buried < It is the part of true prudence to recall to the uses of 
commerce "the talent hidden in the earth." We there- 

claimed f ore direct you, by this "moderata jussio," where you 
State. hear of buried treasures to proceed to the spot with 
suitable witnesses and reclaim for the public Treasury 
either gold or silver, abstaining, however, from actually 
laying hands on the ashes of the dead 1 . The dead can 
do nothing with treasure, and it is not greedy to take 
away what the holder of it can never mourn the 
loss of. 

' Eacus is said to have discovered the use of gold, and 
Indus, King of the Scythians, that of silver. They are 
extremely useful metals.' 


An ex- ' It has been wisely decided by Antiquity that minors 

grant"" cann ot make a binding contract, for they are naturally 

minor, the prey of every sharper. You allege that your patro- 

tiTiD. in- nus [Albinus] is under age, that he is heaping up ex- 

tegrum. penses instead of property, and that his raw boyhood 

does not know what is really for his benefit. If this 

be correct, and be legally proved, he is entitled to a 

restitutio in integrum' [a suit commenced through 

these Actores for the quashing of the contracts which 

have been fraudulently made with the minor]. 

[For the restitutio in integrum see Cod. Theod. ii. 
1 6. i, and vi. 4. 16. Nothing seems to be expressly 
said in this letter about the appointment of a Cu- 

1 How this was to be done is not quite clear, since it is plain that this 
letter is really and chiefly an order for rifling sepulchres in search of burie 

Book IV. Letters 34-37. 253 


FECT. A.D. 509-510. 

' A wise ruler will always lessen the weight of taxa- Kemis- 
tion when his subjects are weighed down by temporary 
poverty. Therefore let .your Magnificence remit to the P 

Provincials of the Cottian Alps the as publicum for cottian 
this year [the third Indiction], in consideration of their A1 P S - 
losses by the passage- of our army. [The army of Ibbas, 
on its march in 408 fto fight Clovis, after the fall of the 
Visigothic Monarchy.] True, that army went forth 
with shouts of concord to liberate Gaul. But so a 
river bursting forth may irrigate and fertilise a whole 
country, and yet destroy the increase of that particular 
channel in which its waters run. 

'We have earned new subjects by that campaign: we 
do not wish them to suffer loss by it. Our own heart 
whispers to us the request which the subjects dare not 
utter to their Prince.' 


Warns Theodagunda [apparently a member of theTheoda- 
royal family and governing some Province ; but what fj 1 ^ 
place could she hold in the Roman official hierarchy?], monished 
that she must emulate the virtue of her ancestors and tice to 
show prompt obedience to the royal commands. ' The Eenatus - 
lamentable petition of Renatus states that, after judg- 
ment given in his favour by the King's Court, he is 
still harassed by the litigation (not in the way of 
regular appeal) of Inquilina, who appears to be not 
so much desirous of victory as anxious to ruin his 
adversary.' [Notwithstanding the form of the name 
I think Inquilina is male, not female.] 

' You must see that this is put right at once.' 

254 Cassiodori Variae. 


Taxes < The inhabitants of Gravasi (?) and Ponto (?) corn- 

reduced plain that they have been overloaded with taxes by 

to the t^ Assessors (discussores) Probus and Januarius. 

which They have bad land, and say that they really cannot 

stood in c P e w ^ n the ^ axes imposed upon them [at the last 

the days Indiction?]. The former practice is to be reverted 

acer. " *> an( ^ they are n t to be called upon to pay more 

than they did in the days of Odoacer.' [An evidence 

that in one case at least the fiscal yoke of Odoacer 

was lighter than that of his successor.] 


The en- c Avarice, which Holy Writ declares to be " the root 
ments of ^ a ^ ev iV * s a vulgar vice which you, our kinsman, 
Theoda- a man of Amal blood, whose family is known to be 
pressed, royal, are especially bound to avoid *. 

'The Spectabilis Domitius complains to us that such 
and such portions of his property have been seized by 
you with the strong hand, without any pretence of 
establishing a legal claim to them. 

'We send the Sajo Duda to you, and order you on 
his arrival 2 , without any delay, to restore the property 
which you have taken possession of, with all the move- 
ables of which you have despoiled it. 

'If you have any claim to make to the lands in 
question, send a person fully informed of the facts 
to our Comitatus, and there let the case be fairly 

1 'Amali sanguinis virum nos decet vulgare desiderium : quia genus suum 
conspicit esse purpuratum.' 

2 ' Si moment! tempora suffragantur.' What is the meaning of this 
limitation ? 

Book IV. Letters 38-41. 255 

' A high-born man should ever act according to well- 
ordered civilitas. Any neglect of this principle brings 
upon him odium, proportioned to the oppression which 
the man of humbler rank conceives himself to have 
suffered at his hands/ 


Recurs to the case of the Possessio Areciretina, which The 
Agapeta, the wife of Basilius, had given (or sold) to ^jpetl. 
Probinus, and which Probinus was commanded to re- Basilius, 
store. (See Letters ii. 10 and n.) . band, 

The petition, now presented by the representatives rdered 
of Probinus, puts a somewhat different face upon the 
matter, and seems to show that the sale by Agapeta (not- 
withstanding her melancholy condition of fatuity and 
vice) was a bond fide one, for sufficient consideration. 

Her husband Basilius is now ordered to reply to the 
pleadings of the opposite party, either at the King's 
Comitatus, or in some local court of competent jurisdic- 
tion. The King's Comitatus is meant to be a blessing to 
his subjects, and recourse to it is not made compulsory 
where, on account of distance, the suitor would rather 
be excused from resorting to it. 


' A King should delight to succour the oppressed. An 

' You inform us that, by the devices of the Spectabilis 

Vivianus and his superior knowledge of the laws, an against 
unjust judgment was obtained against you, in default, reversed. 
in the Court of the Vicarius of the City of Rome : that 
i Vivianus himself has now renounced the world, repents 
of his injustice to you, and interposes no obstacle to the 
restitution of your rights. We therefore (if your state- 
ments shall prove to be correct) quash the sentence 

256 Cassiodori Variae. 

against you, restore you to your country and your 
property, and that you may be preserved from future 
molestation, founded on the old sentence against you, we 
assign you to the guardianship (tuitio) of the Patrician 
Albums, without prejudice to the laws (sal vis legibus). 

'We wish that nothing contrary to civilitas should 
be done, since our daily labour is for the repose of all.' 
[I presume that this letter is in fact an edict for ' Kesti- 
tutio in integrum.'] 



The ' Under a good King the loss even of a father should 

Velusfan ^ e * ess ^ tnan w ^ a different ruler, for the King is 
to have the father of his people. 

property 'The petition of Marcian and Maximius, sons of 
restored Velusian (Patrician and Magnificus), sets forth that 
they lost their father at Easter; that thus the time of 
joy to all Christians became to them a season of sorrow ; 
that while they were immersed in their grief and in- 
capable of attending to their affairs, " the tower of the 
circus and the place of the amphitheatre 1 ," which had 
belonged to their illustrious father, were by some heart- 
less intriguer wrested from them, under the authority 
of the Praefect. 

' Be pleased to enquire into this matter, and if those 
places truly belonged to Velusian, restore them to his 
sons. We wish to cherish rather than oppress the sons of 
illustrious men, who are the germ of our future Senate.' 


j. f ~-/ 


[On the burning of the Jewish synagogue. This 

ed a Jew- synagogue of the Jews was in the Trastevere. See 
gogue. Gregorovius i. 296-298 for a description of it. I do 

1 Can this be the Amphitheatrum Castrense ? 


Book IV. Letters 42-44. 257 

not know on what authority he assigns 521 for the 
date of the tumult in which it was burned.] 

'The propriety of manners which is characteristic 
of the City of Rome must be upheld. To fall into 
the follies of popular tumult, and to set about burning 
their own City, is not like the Roman disposition x . 

'But we are informed by Count Arigern 2 that the 
populace of Rome, enraged at the punishment in- 
flicted on some Christian servants who had mur- 
dered their Jewish masters, has risen in fury and 
burned their synagogue to the ground 3 , idly venting 
on innocent buildings their anger against the men 
who used them. 

'Be pleased to enquire into this matter, and severely 
punish the authors of the tumult, who are probably 
few in number. 

' At the same time enquire into the complaints which 
are brought against the Jews, and if you find that there 
is any foundation for them, punish accordingly.* 


6 It is an invidious task to have to listen to complaints Bishop 
against the revered ministers of the Church. caika" 1 " 

' But the petition of Stephanus sets forth that a pro- upon to 
perty, which belonged to him before the time of your toste- 1Ce 
predecessor, has, within the last nine months, wrong- 
fully, and in defiance of civilitas, been seized by the 

'Levitates quippe seditionum et ambire propriae civitatis incendium, 
non est velle Eomanum.' 

2 It happens that one of the letters addressed to Count Arigern also 
refers to a Jewish synagogue. See iii. 45. 

' * Quod in dominorum caede proruperit servilis audacia : in quibus 
cum fuisset pro districtione publica resecatum, statim plebis inflammata 
contentio synagogam temerario duxerunt incendio concremandam.' The 
above is Gregorovius' explanation of the somewhat enigmatical language 
of Cassiodorus. 


258 Cassiodori Variae. 

officers of your church. If this be so, we desire you, as 
a matter of justice, to correct what your familiars have 
done amiss, and restore it to him without delay. But if 
you dispute his title, send a properly instructed person 
to plead the cause in our Comitatus. 

* You will be better off by having the matter enquired 
into and settled, than if the complaints of Stephanus had 
never come to a hearing V 


The [It is not easy to see why this order should be 

to^e f or _ addressed to the inhabitants of Ticinum. Had the 
warded Heruli crossed the Alps by some pass near the modern 

on their . , on 

way to bimplon ?J 

Ravenna. <\\r e have ordered the Heruli, who are suppliants to us, 

to come to our Comitatus at Ravenna. 

' Provide them promptly with ships of provisions for 

five days, that they may at once see the difference between 

Italy and their own hungry country V 


The case ' The Spectabilis Liberius 3 complains that his wife has 
wife of ^ a( ^ an un j us t judgment given against her in your Court. 
Liberius Try the case over again, associating with yourself arbi- 
heard. trators chosen by both parties. If it cannot so be ended, 

1 There are some technical terms in this letter the meaning of which 
is not clear to me : ' Earn justitiae consideratione momenti jure restitute 
supplicant! . . . Veruntamen si partibus vestris in causa possessionis mo- 
mentaria vel principali justitiam adesse cognoscitis.' 

2 It is probably to the same transaction that Marcellinus Comes refers 
when he says, s. a. 512 : 'Gens Erulorum in terras atque civitates Roma- 
norum jussu Anastasii Caesaris introducta.' The words ' jussu Anastasii 
Caesaris' represent this chronicler's tendency to refer everything that is 
done in Italy to the initiation of Byzantium. 

3 Possibly a son of the Praefect Liberius. 

Book IV. Letters 45-47. 259 

let them appoint properly instructed persons to represent 
them at our Comitatus, if they cannot come them- 


' If the public post-horses (veredi) are not allowed pro- Abuses 
per intervals of rest they will soon be worn out. Cursus 

* We are informed by our legati that these horses are Publicus. 
constantly employed by persons who have no right to 
use them. 

'You are therefore to reside in Rome, and to put your- 
self in constant communication with the officers of the 
Praefectus Praetorio and the Magister Officiorum, so as 
not to allow any to leave the City using the horses of 
the CUTSUS Publicus except the regularly commissioned 
agents of those two functionaries. Anyone transgress- 
ing is to pay a fine of 100 solid! (^ J 6o) per horse ; not 
that the injury to the animal is represented by so high 
a figure, but in order to punish his impertinence. Our 
Sajones, when sent with a commission, are to go straight 
to the mark and return, not to make pleasure-tours at 
the public expense ; and if they disobey this order, they 
are to pay the same fine as that just mentioned. 

'Moreover, the extra horses (parhippi) are not to be 
weighted with a load of more than loolbs. For we wish 
our messengers * to travel in light marching order, not to 
make of their journey a regular domestic migration. 

' Cranes, when they are going to cross the sea, clasp 
little pebbles with their claws, in order to steady with- 
out overweighting themselves. Why cannot those who 
are sent on public errands follow so good an example? 
Every transport master 2 who violates this rule by 
loading a horse with more than loolbs. shall pay 50 . 
solidi (30). 

1 'Mittendarii.' A ' Scrinium Mittendariorum' formed part of the staff 
of the Count of Sacred Largesses. See Theodosian Code vi. 30. 7. 

2 ' Catabulensis.' See iii. 10. 

S 2 

260 Gassiodori Variae. 

' All fines levied under this edict are to go to the 
benefit of the postal-servants 1 , and thus the evil will, 
as we so often see in human affairs, furnish its own 


Honour- * After the worries of the noisy City, and the heavy 
tirement ^ ur( ien of your official duties, your Greatness is longing 
ofEuse- to taste the sweetness of country life. When therefore 
you have finished your present duties, we grant you by 
our authority a holiday of eight months in the charming 
recesses of Lucania [near Cassiodorus' own country], to be 
reckoned from the time when by Divine [royal ?] favour 
you depart from the City. When those months are at 
an end, return with speed, much missed as you will be, 
to your Roman habitation, to the assembly of the nobles, 
and to social intercourse of a kind that is worthy of your 



to be 

Governor The King's orders must be vigorously executed, that 
andTo m ' terror may be struck into the hearts of the lawless, and 
free* 811 ^at ^ose w ^ k ave suffered violence ,may begin to 
booters. hope for better days. Often the threat of punishment 

1 ' Mancipes mutationum.' The 'mutationes' were the places for chang- 
ing horses ; there are generally two of them between each ' mansio' (hostelry). 
Probably the horses were found by the ' Mancipes mutationum.' It was 
therefore a sort of corvee. 

2 Capillatis. The only passage which throws a light on this name and 
that is a doubtful one is Jordanes, De Kebus Geticis xi. After describing 
the pileati, the tiara- wearing priests of the Getae, he says : ' Eeliquam 
vero gentem capillatos dicere jussit [Diceneus] quod nomen Gothi pro 
magno suscipientes adhuc hodie suis cantionibus reminiscuntur.' 

3 Suavia is nearly equivalent to the modern Sclavonia, between the 
rivers Drave and Save. 

Book IV. Letters 48-50. 261 

does more to quiet a country than punishment itself. 
Therefore, under Divine guidance, we have appointed 
Fridibad to be your Governor. 

' He will punish cattle-lifters with due severity, will 
cut off murderers, condemn thieves, and render you, who 
are now torn by presumptuous iniquity, safe from the 
daring attempts of villains. Live like a settled people ; 
live like men who have learned the lessons of morality ; 
let neither nationality nor rank be alleged as an excuse 
from these duties. If any man gives himself up to wicked 
courses, he must needs undergo chastisement.' 


' The Campanians complain that their fields have been Kemis- 
devastated by an eruption of Vesuvius, and ask in con- ^68 for 
sequence for a remission of tribute. [This eruption is Campa- 
assigned I do not know on what authority to the W h have 
y ear 5 12 VI * uffered 

J u from an 

* Let your Greatness send men of proved integrity to eruption 
the territories of Neapolis and Nola, who may examine ^ 
the ravaged lands for themselves, and proportion the 
relief granted, to the amount of damage done in each 

' That Province is visited at intervals by this terrible 
calamity, as if to mar its otherwise perfect happiness. 
There is one favourable feature in the visitation. It 
does not come wholly unawares. For some time before, 
the mountain groans with the strife of Nature going 
on inside it, and it seems as if an angry spirit within 
would terrify all the neighbourhood by his mighty 
roar. Then the air is darkened by its foul exhala- 
tions ; hot ashes scudding along the sea, a shower of 

1 The passage in Marcellinus Comes, s. a. 512, which at first sight 
seems to describe an eruption taking place in that year, really describes 
the commemoration of the eruption of 472. See following note. 

262 Cassiodori Variae. 

drops of dust upon the land, tell to all Italy, to the 
transmarine Provinces, to the world, from what calamity 
Campania is suffering l . 

'Go nearer: you will see as it were rivers of dust flow- 
ing, and glowing streams of barren sand moving over 
the country. You see and wonder: the furrows of the 
fields are suddenly lifted to a level with the tops of the 
trees ; the country, which but now was dressed in a robe 
of gladsome greenness, is laid waste by sudden and mourn- 
ful heat. And yet, even those sandy tracts of pumice- 
stone which the mountain vomits forth, dry and burnt 
up as they appear, have their promise of fertility. There 
are germs within them which will one day spring to 
life, and re-clothe the mountain side which they have 

'How strange that one mountain alone should thus 
terrify the whole world ! Other mountains may be seen 
with silently glowing summits ; this alone announces 
itself to distant lands by darkened skies and changed 
air. So it still goes on, shedding its dusty dews 
over the land ; ever parting with its substance, yet a 
mountain still undiminished in height and amplitude. 
Who that sees those mighty blocks in the plain would 
believe that they had boiled over from the depths of that 
distant hill, that they had been tossed like straws upon 
the wind by the angry spirit of the mountain ? 

' Therefore let your Prudence so manage the enquiry 
that those who have really suffered damage shall be 
relieved, while no room is left for fraud/ 

1 In the eruption of 472 (apparently the last great eruption previous to 
512"), the ashes were carried as far as Byzantium, the inhabitants of which 
city instituted a yearly religious service in memory of the event : 
'Vesuvius mons Campaniae torridus intestinis ignibus aestuans exusta evo- 
muit viscera, nocturnisque in die tenebris incumbentibus, omnem Europae 
faciem minuto contexit pulvere. Hujus metuendi memoriam cineris By- 
zantii annue celebrant vui Idus Novembris.' The eruption was accom- 
panied by widespread earthquake : ' In Asia aliquantae civitates vel 
oppida terrae motu collapsa sunt' (Marcellinus Comes, sub anno). 

Book IV. Letters 50-51. 263 


Commends him for the diligence and skill with which Corn- 
he has decorated Home with new buildings especially JhT^b- 
in the suburbs, which no one would distinguish from lie spirit 
the City except for the occasional glimpses of pleasant macims, 

fields ; and still more for his restoration of the massive a 
ruins of past days 2 , chiefly the theatre of Pompeius. restora- 

As the letter is addressed to a learned man, it seems p ^ i 
a suitable opportunity to explain why Antiquity reared theatre, 
this mighty pile. Accordingly a very long digression 
follows on the origin, progress, and decline of Tragedy, 
Comedy, and Pantomime. 

It is remarked incidentally that Pompeius seems to 
have derived his appellation Magnus chiefly from the 
building of this wonderful theatre. 

The expense which Symmachus has been put to in these 
vast works is to be refunded to him by the Praepositus 
Sacri Cubiculi, that he may still have the glory of the 
work, but that the King may have done his due part in 
preserving the memorials of Antiquity. 

1 The father-in-law of Boethius. 

2 We have here a striking description of the massive strength of the 
public buildings of Rome : ' [Videmus] caveas illas saxis pendentibus 
apsidatas ita juncturis absconditis in formas pulcherrimas convenisse, 
ut cryptas magis excelsi montis crederes quam aliquid fabricatum esse 




The King The swords which you have sent us are most beauti- 

Vandals ^ : so sharp that they will cut other weapons ; so bright 

is thank- that they reflect with a sort of iron light 2 the face of 

presents, the beholder; with the two blades descending to their 

edges with such absolute equality of slope, that you 

would fancy them the result of the furnace rather than 

of the whetstone 3 ; in the middle, between the blades, 

channels carved which are filled in with beautiful 

enamel of various colours 4 . 

' Along with these arms you have also sent us musical 
instruments of ebony, and slave boys of beautiful white- 

1 No doubt Thrasamund, who married Theodoric's sister. He reigned 
from 496 to 523. 

2 * Ut speculum quoddam virorum faciat ferream lucem.' 

3 'Quarum margines in acutum tali aequalitate descendunt, ut non 
limis compositae, sed igneis fornacibus credantur effusae.' 

* * Harum media pulchris alveis excavata, quibusdam videntur crispari 
posse vermiculis, ubi tanta varietatis umbra concludit, ut intextum magis 
credas variis coloribus lucidum metallum.' 

Book V. Letters 1-2. 265 

* We thank you heartily, send by A and B, our am- 
bassadors, presents of equal value ; and hope that mutual 
concord will always unite our States.' 


[These are the Aestii of Tacitus, dwelling in or on The 
the south border of the country which is still called 
Esthonia. Tacitus also mentions their quest of amber 1 .] by the 

' It is gratifying to us to know that you have heard of Their 5 
our fame, and have sent ambassadors who have pressed present 
through so many strange nations to seek our friend- 

' We have received the amber which you have sent us. 
You say that you gather this lightest of all substances 
from the shores of the ocean, but how it comes thither 
you know not. But, as an author named Cornelius 
[Tacitus] informs us, it is gathered in the inner- 
most islands of the ocean, being formed originally 
of the juice of a tree (whence its name succinum 2 ), and 
gradually hardened by the heat of the sun. 

'Thus it becomes an exuded metal, a transparent 
softness, sometimes blushing with the colour of saf- 
fron, sometimes glowing with flame-like clearness 3 . Then, 
gliding down to the margin of the sea, and further 
purified by the rolling of the tides, it is at length trans- 
ported to your shores to be cast up upon them. We have 
thought it better to point this out to you, lest you 
should imagine that your supposed secrets have escaped 
our knowledge. 

1 Germ. 45 : Ergo jam dextro Suevici maris litore Aestiorum gentes 
alluuntur, quibus ritus habitusque Suevorum, lingua Britannicae propior 
. . . Sed et mare scrutantur ac soli omnium sucinum quod ipsi glesum vo- 
cant, inter vada atque in ipso littore legunt.' Then follows an account . 
of the nature of amber, and a history of its supposed origin, from which 
Cassiodorus has borrowed in this letter. 

2 Cassiodorus apparently spells this word with two c's. The more usual 
spelling is with one. 

3 ' Modo croceo colore rubens, modo flammea claritate pinguescena,' 

266 Cassiodori Variae. 

1 We send you some presents by our ambassadors, and 
shall be glad to receive further visits from you by the 
road which you have thus opened up, and to show you 
future favours.' 

[The collection of amber is also noticed by Pliny 
('Nat. Hist.' 37. 2). It is interesting to observe that 
he there, on the authority of Pytheas, attributes to the 
Guttones dwelling on the Baltic shore the collection 
of amber, and its sale to the Teutones. These Guttones 
were, if we are right in accepting Jordanes' account of 
the Gothic migrations, themselves ancestors of the Os- 





Honora- The usual pair of letters on the promotion of Hono- 
ther of ratus to the Quaestorship. He succeeds his brother 
Decora- Deeoratus, whose early death Theodoric regrets. The 
made date of the letters is the Third Indiction, September i, 


The writer remarks on the prophetic instinct 1 of the 
parents, who named these two sons, destined to future 
eminence, Deeoratus and Honoratus. Deeoratus was 
originally an advocate at Rome. His services were 
often sought by men of Consular rank, and before his 
admission to the Senate he had had a Patrician for 
his client in a very celebrated case 2 . 

1 We have here a remark on unconscious prophecies : ' Loqui datur quod 
nos sensisse nescimus : sed post casum reminiscimur, quod ignorantes vera- 
citer dixeramus.' 

2 ' Inferior gradu praestabat viris consularibus se patronum et cum 
honoribus vestris impar haberetur, Patricius ei dictus est in celeberrima 
cognitione susceptus.' The last part of this sentence is very obscure. 

Book V. Letters 3-4. 267 

When he became Quaestor he distinguished himself 
by his excellent qualities. ' He stood beside us, under 
the light of our Genius, bold but reverent; silent at 
the right time, fluent when there was need of fluency. 
He kept our secrets as if he had forgotten them ; he 
remembered every detail of our orders as if he had 
written them down. Thus was he ever an eminent 
lightener of our labours V 

The past career of the younger brother, Honoratus, 
who has been advocate at Spoleto, and has had to 
contend with the corrupt tendencies of Provincial judges, 
full of their little importance, and removed from the 
wholesome control which the opinion of the Senate 
exercised upon them at Rome, is then sketched; and/ 
the hope is expressed that, in the words of the Vir- 
gilian quotation 2 , this bough upon the family tree 
will be found as goodly as that which it has untimely 

The letter to the Senate has an interesting passage on Duties 
the duties and responsibilities of the Quaestor. Quaestor- 

' It is only men whom we consider to be of the high- slli P- 
est learning that we raise to the dignity of the Quaestor- 
ship, such men as are fitted to be interpreters of the 
laws and sharers of our counsels. This is an honour 
which neither riches nor high birth by itself can pro- 
cure, only learning joined with prudence. In grant- 
ing all other dignities we confer favours, but from the 
holder of this we ever receive them. He is favoured to 
have a share in our anxieties ; he enters in by the door 

1 Decoratus is called by Boethius, who was his colleague in some office, 
'a wretched buffoon and informer' (nequissimus scurra et delator. Cons. 
Phil. iii. 4). But Ennodius addresses him in friendly and cordial lan- 
guage (Epist. iv. 17). His epitaph, which mentions his Spoletan origin, is . 
of course laudatory : 

'Nam fessis tribuit requiem, miseros que levavit, 

Justitiae cultor, largus et hospes erat.' 
(Quoted in the notes to Ennodius in Migne's Patrologia.) 

2 'Primo avulso non deficit alter' (Aen. vi. 143). 

268 Cassiodori Variae. 

of our thoughts ; he is intimately acquainted with the 
breast in which the cares of the whole State are weighed. 
Think what judgment you ought to form of a man who 
is partaker of such a confidence. From him we require 
skill in the laws ; to him flow together all the prayers 
of all suitors, and (a thing more precious than any trea- 
sure) to him is committed our own reputation for civili- 
tas. Under a just Quaestor the mind of an innocent 
man is at rest: only the wicked become anxious as to 
the success of their evil designs ; and thus the bad lose 
their hope of plunder, while more earnestness is shown 
in the practice of virtue. It is his to safeguard the just 
rights of all men: temperate in expenditure, lavish in 
his zeal for justice, incapable of deception, prompt in 
succour. He serves that Sovereign mind before which 
all bow: through his lips must he speak who has not 
an equal in the land.' 


Abuses Repeats the injunctions given in Letter iv. 47 against 
improper use of the public post-horses, and overloading 

Pubiicus. of the extra horses. The fines imposed are the same 
as in that letter [with the addition of a fine of two 
ounces of gold (about 6 los.) for overloading] ; the 
examples from Natural History are similar. 'The very 
bird when weighted with a load flies slowly. Ships 
though they cannot feel their toils, yet move tardily 
when they are filled with cargo. What can the poor 
quadruped do when pressed by too great burden? It 

But apparently this rule against overloading is not 
to apply to Praepositi (Provincial Governors?), since 
'reverenda antiquitas' has given them special rights 
over the Cursus Pubiicus. 

Book V. Letters 5-7. 269 




* The Vir Honestus, Thomas, has long been a defaulter Default 
(reliquator) in respect of the Indictions payable for^entl'to 
certain farms which he has held under the King's Treasury 
house in Apulia 2 , and this default has now reached ThoiLwf 
the sum of 10,000 solidi (6,000). Kepeatedly sum-Hispro- 
moned to pay, he always procrastinates, and 

can get no satisfaction out of him. The petition to h ! 8 
of Joannes, who is son-in-law to Thomas, informs us law 
that he is willing to pay the 10,000 solidi due, if we Joannes - 
will make over to him the said farms, and all the pro- 
perty of his father-in-law. This we therefore now do, 
reserving to Thomas the right to pay the debt at any 
time before the next Kalends of September, and thus 
to redeem his property. Failing such payment, the 
property is to pass finally into the hands of Joannes, 
on his paying the 10,000 solidi to the Illustrious Count 
of the Patrimony [possibly Stabularius]. 

* It may be some little consolation to Thomas to reflect 
that after all it is his son-in-law who enters into posses- 
sion of his goods.' 

[Dahn (* Konige der Germanen' iii. 277) remarks on 
this letter : ' But even the well-meaning Theodoric takes 
steps in the interests of substantial justice which from a 
juristic point of view it would be hard to justify. . . . Evi- 
dently here the King, in his consideration of what was 
practically just, has decided according to caprice, not 

1 Officer of the Court. See vi. 13. 

2 'Thomatem domus nostrae certa praedia suscepisse sed eum male 
administrando suscepta usque ad decem millia solidorum de Indictionibus 
ilia atque ilia reliquatorem publicis rationibus extitisse.' It is not quite 
clear whether the debt is due as what we should call rent or as land- 
tax. Perhaps the debt had accumulated under both heads. 

270 Cassiodori Variae. 

according to right ; for the Fiscus could strictly only be 
repaid its debt out of the property of the defaulter, and 
hold the Arcarius (Joannes) responsible for the balance' 
(for which Dahn thinks he had already made himself 
liable). I do not quite agree with this view. It seems 
to me that Thomas was hopelessly bankrupt (the debt 
was 10,000 solidi, not 1,000, as stated by Dahn), and the 
Fiscus virtually sells the bankrupt's estate to his son- 
in-law, for him to make of it what he can.] 


Trans- * We rely upon your Sublimity's zeal and prudence 
marble ^ S6e ^ a t ^ e re( l u i re( ^ blocks of marble are forwarded 
from fr6m Faventia (Faenza) to Ravenna, without any ex- 
tortion from private individuals ; so that, on the one 
hand, our desire for the adornment of that city may be 
gratified, and on the other, there may be no cause for 
complaint on the part of our subjects,' 


New city * We have ordered the erection of a new city in the 

bunt in territory of Tridentum (Trient). As the work is great 

district and the inhabitants few, we order you all to assist and 

Jn ' build each your appointed length (pedatura) of wall, 

for which you will receive suitable pay.' 

[This use of the word pedatura is found in Vegetius, 
'Epitoma Rei Militaris' iii. 8, and is illustrated by the 
centurial stones on the two great Roman walls in Britain, 
recording the number of feet accomplished by each 
century of soldiers (See * Archaeologia Aeliana,' vol. ix. 
p. 28 ; paper by Mr. Clayton).] 

' None, not even the servants of the royal house (divina 
domus), are excepted from this order.' 

Book V. Letters 8-u. 271 



' We desire that our soldiers should always be well Payment 
paid, and that they should never become the terror of 
the country which they are ordered to defend. Do you 
therefore, Sajo Veranus, cause the Gepid troops whom G au i. 
we have ordered to come to the defence of Gaul, to 
march in all peace and quietness through Venetia and 

'You Gepidae shall receive three solid! (<i i6s.) 
per week; and we trust that thus supplied you will 
everywhere buy your provisions, and not take them by 
force. > 

' We generally give the soldiers their pay in kind, 
but in this case, for obvious reasons, we think it better 
to pay them in money, and let them buy for them- 

* If their waggons are becoming shaky with the long 
journey, or their beasts of burden weary, let them 
exchange for sound waggons and fresh beasts with the 
inhabitants of the country, but on such terms that the 
latter shall not regret the transaction.' 

[Does this payment of three solidi mean per head? 
That would be an enormously high rate of pay. Sar- 
torius (p. 289) feels the difficulty so strongly that he 
suggests that this was the pay given to the whole 
troop, whose number was not large; but 'multitude* 
seems hostile to this hypothesis x . Possibly the high 
cost of provisions in the Alpine mountain-country may 
help to explain this unheard-of rate of pay to common 

1 'Ut multitudinem Gepidarum quam fecimus ad Gallias custodiae 
causa properare, per Venetiam atque Liguriam sub omni facias modera- 
tione transire.' 

272 Cassiodori Variae. 


Avarice K all are bound to seek justice and to avoid ignoble 
justice" of gains, most especially are they thus bound who pride 

themselves on their close relationship to us. 

* The heirs of the Illustrious Argolicus [probably the 
Praefect of Eome] and the Clarissimus Amandianus com- 
plain that the estate 1 of Palentia, which we generously 
gave them to console them for the loss of the Casa Arbi- 
tana, has been by your servants, for no cause, unbecom- 
ingly invaded ; and thus you, who should have shown an 
example of glorious moderation, have caused the scandal 
of high-handed spoliation. Wherefore, if this be true, 
let your Greatness at once restore what has been taken 
away; and if you consider that you have any claims 
on the land, come and assert them in our Comitatus. 
Even success yonder is injurious to your fame ; but here, 
after full trial of the case and hearing of witnesses, 
no one will believe that any injustice has been done 
if your cause should triumph.* 

[The republication of this letter at the close of his 
official life shows what was Cassiodorus' opinion of 
Theodahad, though he had served under him.] 


Commis- ' We rely upon you to collect the prescribed rations 
and deliver them to the soldiers. It is most important 
that they should be regularly supplied, and that there 
should be no excuse for pillage, so hard to check when 
once an army has begun to practise it.' 

1 ' Massa ; ' cf. the American ' block.' 

Book V. Letters 12-14. 273 


* We send you to redress the long-standing grievances Financial 
of the Possessores of the Province of Suavia, to which we 
have not yet been able to apply a remedy. 

'(i) it appears that some of the chief Possessores are 
actually making a profit out of the taxes, imposing 
heavy burdens on their poorer neighbours and not 
honestly accounting for the receipts to us. See that this 
is put right, that the land-tax (assis 2 publicus) is fairly 
and equitably reimposed according to the ability of 
each Possessor, and that those who have been oppress- 
ing their neighbours heal the wounds which they have 

' (2) See also that a strict account is rendered by all 
Defensores, Curiales, and Possessores of any receipts on 
behalf of the public Treasury. If a Possessor can show 
that he paid his tax (tributarius solidus) for the now 
expired eighth Indiction (A.D. 514-515), and the money 
has not reached our Treasury, find out the defaulter and 
punish his crime. 

'(3) Similarly with sums disbursed by one of the 
clerks of our Treasury 3 , for the relief of the Province, 
which have not reached their destination. 

'(4) Men who were formerly Barbarians 4 , who have 
married Roman wives and acquired property in land, are 
to be compelled to pay their Indictions and other taxes 
to the public Treasury just like any other Provincials. 

'(5) Judges are to visit each town (municipium) once 
in the year, and are not entitled to claim from such 
towns more than three days' maintenance. Our ancestors 

1 In the next letter the same official is called Severinus. 

2 Cassiodorus uses the rare nominative form ' assis.' 

3 ' Tabularius a cubiculo nostro.' 

* 'Antiqui Barbari qui Romanis mulieribus elegerint nuptiali foedere 
sociari, quolibet titulo praedia quaesiverint, fiscum possess! cespitis per- 
solvere, ac super indictitiis oneribus parere cogantur.' 


274 Cassiodori Variae. 

wished that the circuits of the Judges should be a 
benefit, not a burden, to the Provincials. 

'(6) It is alleged that some of the servants of the 
Count of the Goths and of the Vice-dominus ("?) have 
levied black-mail on some of the Provincials. Property 
so taken must be at once restored and the offenders 

' (7) Enter all your proceedings under this commission 
in official registers (polyptycha), both for your own 
protection and for the sake of future reference, to prevent 
the recurrence of similar abuses.' 

[A long and interesting letter, but with some obscure 


On the 'Although our Comitatus is always ready to redress 
subject, ^ ne grievances of our subjects, yet, on account of the 
length of the journey from your Province hither, we 
have thought good to send the Illustrious and Magni- 
ficent Severinus to you to enquire into your complaints 
on the spot. He is a man fully imbued with our own 
principles of government, and he has seen how greatly 
we have at heart the administration of justice. We 
therefore doubt not that he will soon put right whatever 
has been done wrong in your Province; and we have 
published our " oracles " [the previous letter, containing 
Severinus' patent of appointment], that all may know 
upon what principles he is to act, and that those who 
have grievances against the present functionaries may 
learn their rights.' 


tioiTof" ' "^ Divine inspiration we have determined to raise a 
a navy, navy which may both ensure the arrival of the cargoes 

Book V. Letters 15-17. 275 

of public corn and may, if need be, combat the ships of 
an enemy. For, that Italy, a country abounding in 
timber, should not have a navy of her own hath often 
stricken us with regret. 

' Let your Greatness therefore give directions for the 
construction of 1,000 dromones (swift cutters). Where- 
ever cypresses and pines are found near to the sea-shore, 
let them be bought at a suitable price. 

' Then as to the levy of sailors : any fitting man, if a 
slave, must be hired of his master, or bought at a reason- 
able price. If free, he is to receive 5 solidi (3) as 
donative, and will have his rations during the term of 

' Even those who were slaves are to be treated in the 
same way, " since it is a kind of freedom to serve the 
Ruler of the State * ; " and are to receive, according to 
their condition, two or three solidi (i 43. or 1 i6s.) of 
bounty money 2 . 

' Fishermen, however, are not to be enlisted in this 
force, since we lose with regret one whose vocation it is 
to provide us with luxuries ; and moreover one kind of 
training is required for him who has to face the stormy 
wind, and another for him who need only fish close to 


' We praise you for your prompt fulfilment of the orders On the 
contained in the previous letter. You have built a fleet 
almost as quickly as ordinary men would sail one. The 
model of the triremes, revealing the number of the rowers 
but concealing their faces, was first furnished by the 
Argonauts. So too the sail, that flying sheet 3 which 
wafts idle men to their destination quicker than swiftest 

' Quando libertatis genus est servire Eectori.' 
2 'Arrharum nomine.' 3 ' Linum volatile.' 

T 2 

276 Cassiodori Variae. 

"birds can fly, was first invented by the lorn Isis, when 
she set off on her wanderings through the world to find 
her lost son Apochran. 

' Now that we have our fleet, there is no need for the 
<> Greek to fasten a quarrel upon us, or for the African 
< [the Vandal] to insult us 1 . With envy they see that we 
$ have now stolen from them the secret of their strength. 

' Let all the fleet be assembled at Ravenna on the next 
Ides of June. Let our own Padus send his home-born 
navy to the sea, his river-nurtured firs to battle with 
the winds of Ocean. 

' But there is one suggestion of yours of great import- 
ance, and which must be diligently acted upon, namely 
the removal of the nets whereby the fishermen at present 
impede the channels of the following rivers : Mincius, 
Ollius (Oglio), Anser (Serchio), Arno, Tiber. Let the 
river lie open for the transit of ships ; let it suffice for 
the appetite of man to seek for delicacies in the ordinary- 
way, not by rustic artifice to hinder the freedom of the 



On the These three letters all relate to the same subject as the 
subject. ^ wo preceding ones the formation of a navy, and the 

rendezvous of ships and sailors at Ravenna on the Ides 

of June. 

The Count of the Patrimony is courteously requested 

to see if there is any timber suitable for the purposes of 

the navy, growing in the royal estates along the banks of 

the Po. 

1 ' Non habet quod nobis Graecus imputet aut Afer insultet.' 

Book V. Letters 18-22. 277 

The Sajones are ordered in more brusque and 
peremptory fashion: Gudinand to collect the sailors at 
Ravenna on l^e appointed day; and Avilf to collect 
timber along the banks of the Po, with as little injury to 
the Possessors as possible (not, however, apparently pay- 
ing them anything for it), to keep his hands clean from 
extortion and fraud, and to pull up the stake-nets in 
the channels of the five rivers mentioned in Letter 1 7 ; 
'for we all know that men ought to fish with nets, not 
with hedges, and the opposite practice shows detestable 



[On the appointment of Capuanus to the office of Capua- 
Rector of the Guilds (Rector Decuriarum). The Guilds 
(Decuriae) of the City of Rome not to be confounded Rector 
with the Provincial Curiae, membership in which was at 
this time a burden rather than an advantage enjoyed 
several special privileges. We find from the Theodosian 
Code, Lib. xiv. Tit. i, that there were Decuriae of the 
Librarii, Fiscales, Censuales. The Decuria Scribarum 
is perhaps the same as the Decuria Librariorum. I use 
the word Guilds, which seems best to describe a body 
of this kind ; but it will be seen from their names that 
these Guilds are not of a commercial character, but are 
rather concerned with the administration of justice. 
Some of them must have discharged the duties of attor- 
neys, others of Inland Revenue officers, others acted as 
clerks to register the proceedings of the Senate, others 
performed the mere mechanical work of copying, which 
is now undertaken by a law stationer. 

It was ordained by a law of Constantius and Julian 
(357) that no one should enter the first class in these 

278 Cassiodori Variae. 

Decuriae 1 unless he were a trained and practised literary 

The office which in the Theodosian Code is called 
Judex Decuriarum seems here to be called Rector.'] 

The young Capuanus has distinguished himself as an 
advocate both before the Senate and other tribunals. 
There has been a certain diffidence and hesitation in his 
manner, especially when he was dealing with common 
subjects ; but. he always warmed with his peroration, and 
the same man who even stammered in discussing some 
trifling detail became fluent, nay eloquent, when the 
graver interests of his client were at stake. When he 
saw that the Judge was against him he did not lose 
heart, but, by praising his justice and impartiality, 
gradually coaxed him into a more favourable mood. On 
one memorable occasion, when a certain document was 
produced which appeared hostile, he boldly challenged 
the accuracy of the copy [made probably by one of 
the Decuria Librariorum] and insisted on seeing the 
original. This young advocate is now appointed Rector 
Decuriarum, and thus accorded the privilege of seniority 
over many men who are much older than himself. He 
is exhorted to treat them with all courtesy, to remember 
the importance of accuracy and fidelity in the execution 
of his duties and those of the Decuriales under him, on 
whose correct transcription of documents the property, 
the liberty, nay even the life of their fellow-subjects may 
depend. Especially he is exhorted to remember his own 
challenge of the accuracy of a copied document, that he 
may not ever find that memorable oration of his brought 
up against himself. 

The Senate is exhorted to give the young official a 
kindly welcome. It will now devolve upon him to 
report with praiseworthy accuracy the proceedings of 
that body, the most celebrated in the whole world. He 
who has often pleaded before them the cause of the 

1 ' Locum primi ordinis.' 

Book V. Letters 22-24. 279 

humble and weak, will now have to introduce Consulars 
to their assembly. It is expected that his eloquence 
will grow and his stammer will disappear, now that 
he is clothed with a more dignified office. ' Freedom 
nourishes words, but fear frequently interrupts their 
plenteous flow.' 



'Tata the Sajo is ordered to proceed to the Illustrious Archery 
Count Julian, with the young archers whom he has dnl1 ' 
drilled, that they may practise on the field the lessons 
which they have learned in the gymnasium. Let your 
Greatness provide them with rations and ships according 
to custom.' [The place to which this expedition was 
directed does not seem to be stated.] 



* We are informed that Joanna, the wife of Andreas, Property 
having succeeded to her husband's estate, has died in- 

testate without heirs. Her property ought therefore to dyi 

m i i . i i_ , j intestate 

lapse to our Treasury 1 , but it is being appropriated, so an( j w ith. 
we are informed, by divers persons who have no claim u * ; heira 

to it. claimed 

' Enquire into this matter ; and if it be as we are 
informed, reclaim for our Treasury so legitimate a 
possession. We should consider ourselves guilty of 
negligence if we omitted to take possession of that 
which, without harming anyone, so obviously comes 
in to lighten the public burdens. 

'But if you find the facts different to these, by all 
means leave the present owners in quiet possession. 
The secure enjoyment by our subjects of that which is 
lawfully theirs we hold to be our truest patrimony;' 

1 ' Quia caduca bona fisco nostro competere legum cauta decreverunt.' 

280 Cas&iodori Variae. 

Bacauda c By way of support for your declining years we 
thToffice a PPi n ^ 7 OU J f r l^ 6 * Tribunus Voluptatum [Minister of 
of Tri- Public Amusement] at Milan. 

bunus , T , . . T . ., , -,. . 

Voiupta- It is a new principle in the public service 2 to give 
tum for anv man a life-tenure of his office ; but you will now not 
have to fear the interference of any successor, and your 
mind being at ease about your own future, you will be 
able to minister to the pleasures of the people with a 
smiling face.' 


The c The presence of the Sovereign doubles the sweetness 

summon- of his gifts, and that man is like one dead whose face is 
edtothe no ^ known to his lord 3 . Come therefore by God's 
presence, assistance, come all into our presence on the eighth day 
before the Ides of June (June 6th), there solemnly to 
receive our royal largesse. But let there be no excesses 
by the way, no plundering the harvest of the cultivators 
nor trampling down their meadows, since for this cause 
do we gladly defray the expense of our armies that 
civilitas may be kept intact by armed men.' 


The ' Order all the captains of thousands 4 of Picenum and 

Samnium to come to our Court, that we may bestow the 

1 The name is a peculiar one, reminding us of the Bacaudae, who for 
more than a century waged a sort of servile war in Gaul against the officers 
of the Empire. It is not probable, however, that there is any real connec- 
tion between them and the receiver of this letter. 

2 ' Quod est in Reipublicae militia novum.' Observe the use of militia 
for civil service. 

3 'Nam pene similis est mortuo qui a suo Dominante nescitur.' A motto 
more suited to the presence-chamber of Byzantium than the camp-fires of a 
Gothic King. 

4 ' Millenarii.' Cf. the x i ^ a PX ol > who, as Procopius tells us, were ap- 
pointed by Gaiseric over the Vandals ; also the thusundifaths of Ulfilas. 

Book V. Letters 25-30. 281 

wonted largesse on our Goths. We enquire diligently 
into the deeds of each of our soldiers, that none may lose 
the credit of any exploit which he has performed in the 
field. On the other hand, let the coward tremble at the 
thought of coming into our presence. Even this fear 
may hereafter make him brave against the enemy.' 


' Granting your request, and also satisfying our own invita- 
desire for your companionship, we invite you to our^J^ 


' Our pity is greatly moved by the petition of Ocer, A blind 
a blind Goth, who has come by the help of borrowed ^n^ 
sight to feel the sweetness of our clemency, though he enslaved. 
cannot see our presence. 

' He asserts that he, a free Goth, who once followed our 
armies, has, owing to his misfortune, been reduced to 
slavery by Gudila and Oppas. Strange excess of im- 
pudence to make that man their servant, before whose 
sword they had assuredly trembled had he possessed his 
eyesight! He pleads that Count Pythias has already 
pronounced against the claims of his pretended masters. 
If you find that this is so, restore him at once to freedom, 
and warn those men not to dare to repeat their oppression 
of the unfortunate.' 


[AND Dux]. 

* We expect those whom we choose as Dukes to work Servile 
righteousness. Costula and Daila, men who by the 

blessing of God reioice in the freedom of our Goths, on 

i i (roths by 

complain that servile tasks are imposed upon them by a Duke. 
you. We do not do this ourselves, nor will we allow 

282 Cassiodori Variae. 

anyone else to do it. If you find that the grievance 
is correctly stated rectify it at once, or our anger will 
turn against the Duke who thus abuses his power.' 


[For the career of Decoratus see v. 3 and 4.] 
Arrears Thomas, Vir Clarissimus, complains that he cannot 
quaticum collect the arrears of Siliquaticum from certain persons 
to be j n Apulia and Calabria. 

'Do you therefore summon Mark the Presbyter, 
Andreas, Simeonius, and the others whose names are 
set forth in the accompanying schedule, to come into 
your presence, using no unnecessary force 1 in your 
summons. If they cannot clear themselves of this 
debt to the public Treasury, they must be forced 
to pay.' 

[The arrears are said to be for the 8th, 9th, nth, ist, 
2nd, and I5th Indictiones ; i.e. probably for the years 
500, 501, 503,- 508, 509, 507. I cannot account for 
this curious order in which the years are arranged, 
which seems to suggest some corruption of the text. 
Probably this letter was written about 509.] 


[See remarks on this letter in Dahn (' Konige der 
Germanen' iv. 149-152); he claims it as a proof that 
Gothic law still existed for the Goths in Italy.] 
Assault 'Times without number has Patzenes laid his corn- 
wife of plaint upon us, to wit that while he was absent on the 

Brandila recent successful expedition 2 your wife Procula fell upon 
wife of his wife [Kegina], inflicted upon her three murderous 
Patzenes. blows, and finally left her for dead, the victim having 

only escaped by the supposed impossibility of her living. 

Now therefore, if you acknowledge the fact to be so, 

1 ' Servata in omnibus civilitate.' 2 Into Gaul; see next letter. 

Book V. Letters 31-33. 283 

you are to consult your own honour by inflicting 
summary punishment as a husband on your wife, that 
we may not hear of this complaint again l . But if you 
deny the fact, you are to bring your said wife to our 
Comitatus and there prove her innocence.' 


[Containing the explanation of Procula's violence to 

' Patzenes brings before us a most serious complaint : Adulter- 
that during his absence in the Gaulish campaign, nation" 
Brandila dared to form an adulterous connection with between 
his wife Regina, and to go through the form of marriage and'the* 
with her. wife of 

' Whose honour will be safe if advantage is thus to be 
taken with impunity of the absence of a brave defender 
of his country ? Alas for the immodesty of women ! 
They might learn virtue even from the chaste example 
of the cooing turtle-dove, who when once deprived by 
misfortune of her mate, never pairs again with another. 

' Let your Sublimity compel the parties accused to 
come before you for examination, and if the charge 
be true, if these shameless ones were speculating on 
the soldier of the Republic not returning from the wars, 
if they were hoping, as they must have hoped, for general 
collapse and ruin in order to hide their shame, then 
proceed against them as our laws against adulterers 
dictate 2 , and thus vindicate the rights of all husbands.' 

[If these laws were, as is probable, those contained 
in the Edictum Theodorici, the punishment for both 
the guilty parties was death, 38, 39.] 

1 'Atque ideo decretis te praesentibus admonemus, ut si factum evi- 
denter agnoscis, delatam querimoniam, pudori tuo consulens, maritali 
districtione redarguas ; quatenus ex eadem causa ad nos querela justa 
non redeat.' 

2 ' Et rerum veritate discuss^, sicut jura nostra praecipiunt, in adul- 
teros maritorum favore resecetur.' 

284 Cassiodori Variae. 


Endless ' Frontosus, acting worthily of his name [the shameless- 
evasions b rowe d one], confessed to having embezzled a large sum 
tosus. of public money, but promised that, if a sufficient inter- 
nat^re of va ^ were allowed him, he would repay it. Times without 
the cha- number has this interval expired and been renewed, and 
still he does not pay. When he is arrested he trembles 
with fear, and will promise anything ; as soon as he is 
liberated he seems to forget every promise that he has 
made. He changes his words, like the chameleon, that 
little creature which in the shape of a serpent is distin- 
guished by a gold-coloured head, and has all the rest of 
its body of a pale green. This little beast when it meets 
the gaze of men, not being gifted with speed of flight, 
confused with its excess of timidity, changes its colours 
in marvellous variety, now azure, now purple, now 
green, now dark blue. The chameleon, again, may be 
compared to the Pandian gem [sapphire ?], which flashes 
with all sorts of lights and colours while you hold it still 
in your hand. 

' Such then is the mind of Frontosus. He may be 
rightly compared to Proteus, who when he was laid hold 
of, appeared in every shape but his own, roared as a lion, 
hissed as a serpent, or foamed away in watery waves, 
all in order to conceal his true shape of man. 

' Since this is his character, when you arrest him, first 
stop his mouth from promising, for his facile nature is 
ready with all sorts of promises which he has no chance 
of performing. Then ascertain what he can really pay at 
once, and keep him bound till he does it. He must not be 
allowed to think that he can get the better of us with his 

Boole V. Letters 34-36. 285 



' When we were in doubt about the food supply of Fraudu- 
Rome, we judged it proper that Spain should send her 

cargoes of wheat hither, and the Vir Spectabilis Marcian to b . e 
collected supplies there for this purpose. His industry, 
however, was frustrated by the greed of the shipowners, 
who, disliking the necessary delay, slipped off and dis- 
posed of the grain for their own profit. Little as we 
like harshness, this offence must be punished. We have 
therefore directed Catellus and Servandus (Viri Stre- 
nui) to collect from these shipmasters the sum of 1,038 
solidi (622 1 6s.), inasmuch as they appear to have re- 
ceived : 

' From the sale of the corn . . . . 280 solidi. 
* And from the fares of passengers . 758 

' 1,038 

'Let your Sublimity assist in the execution of this 



' You tell us that your body, wearied out with con- Honour- 
tinual labour, is no longer equal to the fatigues of our 
glorious campaigns, and you therefore ask to be released 
from the necessity of further military service. We grant 
your request, but stop your donative; because it is not 
right that you should consume the labourer's bread in 
idleness. We shall extend to you our protection from the 
snares of your adversaries, and allow no one to call you a 
deserter, since you are not one 1 .' 

1 This is perhaps a specimen of the ' honesta missio ' of which we read 
in the Theodosian Code xii. I. 43, 45. 

286 Cassiodori Variae. 

Eights of 'For the preservation of civilitas the benefits of jus- 
ishSyna- ^ ce are no ^ ^ ^ e denied even to those who are recognised 
gg ue as wandering from the right way in matters of faith, 
invaded ' You complain that you are often wantonly attacked, 

S " an< ^ ^ a ^ ^ e rig^ 8 pertaining to your synagogue are 
disregarded 1 . We therefore give you the needed pro- 
tection of our Mildness, and ordain that no ecclesiastic 
shall trench on the privileges of your synagogue, nor 
mix himself up in your affairs. But let the two com- 
munities keep apart, as their faiths are different: you 
on your part not attempting to do anything incivile 
against the rights of the said Church. 

' The law of thirty years' prescription, which is a 
world- wide custom 2 , shall enure for your benefit also. 

'But why, oh Jew, dost thou petition for peace and 
quietness on earth when thou canst not find that rest 
which is eternal 3 ? ' 


Shrubs 'The aqueducts are an object of our special care, 
ing the We desire you at once to root up the shrubs growing 
a ? ^f duct i n the Signine Channel 5 , which will before long become 
vennato big trees scarcely to be hewn down with the axe, and 
be rooted ^j^ interfere with the purity of the water in the 
aqueduct of Ravenna. Vegetation is the peaceable over- 
turner of buildings, the battering-ram which brings them 
to the ground, though the trumpets never sound for siege. 

1 * Nonnullorum vos frequenter causamini praesumptione lacerates et 
quae ad synagogam vestram pertinent perhibetis jura rescindi.' 

2 * Tricennalis humano generi patrona praescriptio vobis jure servabitur ; 
nee conventionalia vos irrationabiliter praecipimus sustinere dispendia.' 
I do not know what is meant by ' conventionalia dispendia.' 

3 ' Sed quid, Judaec, supplicans temporalem quietem quaeris si aeternam 
requiem invenire non possis/ 

* 'Universis Possessoribus.' 

5 Where was this ? Sigma in Latium is, of course, not to be thought of. 

Book V. Letters 37-39. 287 

'We shall now again have baths that we may look 
upon with pleasure ; water which will cleanse, not stain ; 
water after using which we shall not require to wash 
ourselves again ; drinking-water such that the mere sight 
of it will not take away all our appetite for food V 


* That alone is the true life of men which is controlled Sundry 
by the reign of law. 

' We regret to hear that through the capricious ex- 
tortions of our revenue-officers anarchy is practically O f the 
prevailing in Spain. The public registers (polyptycha), 
not the whim of the collector, ought to measure the ment to 
liability of the Provincial. 

* We therefore send your Sublimity to Spain in order 
to remedy these disorders. 

* (i) Murder must be put down with a strong hand ; 
but the sharper the punishment is made the more rigid 
we ought to be in requiring proof of the crime 3 . 

' (3) The collectors of the land-tax (assis publicus) are 
accused of using false weights [in collecting the quotas 
of produce from the Provincials]. This must cease, and 
they must use none but the standard weights kept by 
our Chamberlain 4 . 

' (3) The farmers 5 of our Royal domain must pay the 
rent imposed on them, otherwise they will get to look 
on the farms as their own property ; but certain salaries 
may be paid them for their trouble, as you shall think 
fit 6 . [Dahn suggests that the salary was to reimburse 

1 The scarcity of water at Ravenna was proverbial. 

2 Of. the somewhat similar letter to Severinus, Special Commissioner for 
Suavia (v. 14). 

8 ' Homicidii scelus legum jubemus auctoritate resecari : sed quantum 
vehementior poena est tanto ejus rei debet inquisitio plus haberi : ne 
amore vindictae innocentes videantur vitae pericula sustinere.' 

* ' Libra cubiculi nostri.' 5 ' Conductores domus Regiae.' 

6 ' Et ne cuiquam labor BUUS videatur ingratus, salaria eis pro qualitate 
locatae rei, vestra volumus aequitate constitui.' 

288 Cassiodori Variae. 

them for their labours as a kind of local police, but is 
not himself satisfied with this explanation.! 

' (4) Import duties l are to be regularly collected and 
honestly paid over. 

'(5) The officers of the mint are not to make their 
private gains out of the coinage.' 

(6) An obscure sentence as to the ' Canon telonei ' 
[from the Greek reA^rjs, a tax-gatherer. Garet reads 
' Tolonei/ which is probably an error]. 

(7) The same as to the Actus Laeti, whose conscience 
is assailed by the grossest imputations. [Laetus is per- 
haps the name of an official.] 

'(8) Those concerned in furtivae actiones, and their 
accomplices, are to disgorge the property thus acquired. 

' (9) Those who have received praebendae [apparently 
official allowances charged on the Province] are, with 
detestable injustice, claiming them both in money and 
in kind. This must be put a stop to : of course the one 
mode of payment is meant to be alternative to the other. 

c (10) The Exactores (Collectors) are said to be extort- 
ing from the Provincials more than they pay into our 
chamber (cubiculum). Let this be carefully examined 
into, and let the payment exacted be the same that was 
fixed in the times of Alaric and Euric. 

f (ii) The abuse of claiming extortions (paraveredi) 
by those who have a right to use the public posts must 
be repressed. 

'(12) The defence of the Provincials by the Villici is 
so costly, and seems to be so unpopular, that we remove 
it altogether. [For this tuitio villici, see Dahn iii. 131 ; 
but he is not able to throw much light on the nature 
of the office of the Villicus.] 

'(13) Degrading services (servitia famulatus) are not 
to be claimed of our free-born Goths, although they 
may be residents in cities V 

( Transmarinorum canon.' 2 Cf. the 3Oth letter of this 

Book V. Letters 39-41. 289 

[This very long letter is one of great importance, but 
also of great difficulty.] 


[This Cyprian is the accuser of Albinus and Boethius.] 



[On Cyprian's appointment to the above office, 524.] 
The usual pair of letters setting forth the merits of Promo- 
the new official. The Senate is congratulated on the Q n r if n 
fact that the King never presents to a place in that to the 
body a mere tyro in official life, but always himself 
first tests the servants of the State, and rewards with 

a place in the Senate only those who have shown them- 
selves worthy of it. 

Cyprian is the son of a man of merit, Opilio, who 
in the times of the State's ill-fortune was chosen to a 
place in the royal household l . He was not able, owing 
to the wretchedness of the times, to do much for his 
son. The difference between the fortunes of father and 
son is the measure of the happy change introduced by 
the rule of Theodoric. 

In some subordinate capacity in the King's final 
Court of Appeal (probably as Referendarius 2 ) Cyprian 
has hitherto had the duty of stating the cases of the 
hostile litigants. He has shown wonderful dexterity 
in suddenly stating the same case from the two oppo- 

1 ' Vir quidem abjectis temporibus ad excubias tainen Palatinas elect us.' 
The time of Odovacar's government is here alluded to (see viii. 17). An 
Opilio, probably father of the one here mentioned, was Consul under 
Valentinian III in 453. 

2 Anonymus Valesii says : ' Cyprianus, qui tune Keferendarius erat 
postea Comes Sacrarum et Magister/ 85. 


290 Cassiodori Variae. 

site points of view l t and this so as to satisfy even the 
requirements of the litigants themselves. 

Often the King has transacted business in his rides which 
used of old to be brought before a formal Consistory. 
He has mounted his horse, when weary with the cares 
of the Republic, to renew his vigour by exercise and 
change of scene. In these rides he has been accom- 
panied by Cyprian, who has in such a lively manner 
stated the cases which had come up on appeal, that 
an otherwise tedious business was turned into a plea- 
sure. Even when the King was most moved to wrath 
by what seemed to him a thoroughly bad cause, he 
still appreciated the charm of the Advocate's style in 
setting it before him. Thus has Cyprian had that most 
useful of all trainings, action, not books. 

Thus prepared he was sent on an embassy to the 
East, a commission which he discharged with conspi- 
cuous ability. Versed in three languages (Greek, Ro- 
man, Gothic ?), he found that Greece had nothing to 
show him that was new ; and as for subtlety, he was 
a match for the keenest of the Greeks. The Emperor's 
presence had nothing in it to make him hesitating or 
confused. Why should it, since he had seen and pleaded 
before Theodoric 2 ? 

In addition to all these other gifts he possesses faith, 
that anchor of the soul amidst the waves of a stormy 

He is therefore called upon to assume at the third 
Indiction [524-525] the office of Count of the Sacred 
Largesses, and exhorted to bear himself therein worthily 

1 'Nam cum oratoribus sit propositum diu tractata unius partis vota 
dicere, tibi semper necesse fuit repentinum negotium utroque latere de- 

a 'Talibus igitur institutis edoctus, Eoae sumpsisti legationis officium, 
missus ad summae quidem peritiae viros : sed nulla inter eos confusus es 
trepidatione quia nihil tibi post nos potuit esse mirabile. Instructus 
enim trifariis linguis, non tibi Graecia quod novum ostentaret invenit ; nee 
ipsa qua nimium praevalet, te transcendit argutia.' 

Book V. Letters 41-42. 291 

of his parentage and his past career, that the King may 
afterwards promote him to yet higher honour. 

[For further remarks on this letter a very important 
one, as bearing on the trial of Boethius see viii. 16. 
The third Indiction might mean either 509-510 or 524- 
525 ; but the statement of ' Anomymus Valesii,' that 
Cyprian was still only Keferendarius at the time of his 
accusation of Albinus, warrants us in fixing on the later 
date. This makes the encomiums conferred in this letter 
more significant, since they must have been bestowed 
after the delation against Albinus and Boethius. Pro- 
bably it was during Cyprian's embassy to Constanti- 
nople (described in this letter) that he discovered these 
intrigues of the Senators with the Byzantine Court, 
which he denounced on his return.] 


[Flavius Anicius Maximus was Consul A.D. 523.] 

' If gingers and dancers are to be rewarded by the Kewards 
generosity of the Consul, cb fortiori should the Venator, f r ]^g~ a 
the fighter with wild beasts in the amphitheatre, be in the 
rewarded for tyis endeavours to please the people, who theatre", 
after all are secretly hoping to see him killed. And 
what a horrible death he dies denied even the rites of 
burial, disappearing before he has yet become a corpse 
into the maw of the hungry animal which he has failed 
to kill. These spectacles were first introduced as part 
of the worship of the Scythian Diana, who was feigned 
to gloat on human gore. The ancients called her the 
triple deity, Proserpina-Luna-Diana. They were right 
in one point ; the goddess who invented these games 
certainly reigned in hell! 

The Colosseum (the Amphitheatre of Titus) is described. 

The combats with wild beasts are pourtrayed in 
a style of pompous obscurity. We may dimly discern 

U 2 

292 Cassiodori Variae. 

the form of the bestiarius, who is armed with a wooden 
spear; of another who leaps into the air to escape 
the beast's onset; of one who protects himself with 
a portable wall of reeds, 'like a sea-urchin;' of 
others who are fastened to a revolving wheel, and 
alternately brought within the range of the animal's 
claws and borne aloft beyond his grasp. ' There are as 
many perilous forms of encounter as Virgil described 
varieties of crime and punishment in Tartarus. Alas 
for the pitiable error of mankind! If they had any 
true intuition of Justice, they would sacrifice as much 
wealth for the preservation of human life as they 
now lavish on its destruction.' [' A noble regret,' says 
Gregorovius ('Geschichte der Stadt Kom.' i. 286), 'in 
which in our own day every well-disposed Minister 
of a military state will feel bound to concur with Cas- 


Com- ' Having given you our sister, that singular ornament 

ofThe ^ ^ ne ^ ma l race > i n marriage, in order to knit the 
protec- bonds of friendship between us, we are amazed that 
given by vou should have given protection and support to our 
Thrasa- enemy Gesalic [natural son of Alaric III. If it was 

mund to * , n , i , 

Gesalic. out oi mere pity and as an outcast that you received 
him into your realm, you ought to have kept him there ; 
whereas you have sent him forth furnished with large 
supplies of money to disturb the peace of our Gaulish 
Provinces. This is not the conduct of a friend, much 
less of a relative. We are sure that you cannot 
have taken counsel in this matter with your wife, who 
would neither have liked to see her brother injured, 
nor the fair fame of her husband tarnished by such 
doubtful intrigues. We send you A and B as our ambas- 
sadors, who will speak to you further on this matter.' 

Book V. Letters 43-44. 293 


' You have shown, most prudent of Kings, that wise Recon- 
men know how to amend their faults, instead of per- ^J^ 
sisting in them with that obstinacy which is the cha- Theodo- 
racteristic of brutes. In the noblest and most truly Thrasa- 
kinglike manner you have humbled yourself to confess 
your fault in reference to the reception of Gesalic, and 
to lay bare to us the very secrets of your heart in this 
matter. We thank you and praise you, and accept your 
purgation of yourself from this offence with all our heart. 
As for the presents sent us by your ambassadors, we 
accept them with our minds, but not with our hands. 
Let them return to your Treasury (cubiculum), that it 
may be seen that it was simply love of justice, not desire 
of gain, which prompted our complaints. We have both 
acted in a truly royal manner 1 . Let your frankness 
and our contempt of gold be celebrated through the 
nations. It is sweeter to us to return these presents 
to you, than to receive much larger ones from anyone 
else. Your ambassadors carry back with them the 
fullest salutation of love from your friend and ally.' 

1 ' Fecimus utrique regalia.' 




Consul- ' IN old days the supreme reward of the Consulship 
8 lp * was given to him who, by his strong right hand, had 
delivered the Kepublic. The mantle embroidered with 
palms of victory 2 , the privilege of giving his name to 
the year and of enfranchising the slave, even power 
over the lives of his fellow-citizens, were rightly given 
to a man to whom the Republic owed so much. He 
received the axe the power of life and death but 
bound up in the bundle of rods, in order that the neces- 
sary delay in undoing these might prevent him from 
striking the irrevocable stroke without due considera- 
tion. Whence also he received the name of Consul, 
because it was his duty to consult for the good of his 
country. He was bound to spend money freely; and 
thus he who had shed the blood of the enemies of Rome 
made the lives of her children happy by his generosity. 

' But now take this office under happier circumstances, 
since we have the labours of the Consul, you the joys 
of his dignity. Your palm-embroidered robes therefore 

1 For the reasons which induced Cassiodorus to compile the two books of 
Formulae, see his Preface (translated, p. 138). 

2 'Palmata vestis.' 

Book VI. Formula i. 295 

are justified by our victories, and you, in the prosperous 
hour of peace, confer freedom on the slave, because we 
by our wars are giving security to the Romans. There- 
fore, for this Indiction, we decorate you with the ensigns 
of the Consulship. 

'Adorn your broad shoulders 1 with the variegated 
colours of the palm-robe ; ennoble your strong hand with 
the sceptre of victory 2 . Enter your private dwelling 
having even your sandals gilded ; ascend the curule chair 
by the many steps which its dignity requires : that thus 
you, a subject and at your ease, may enjoy the dignity 
which we, the Ruler, assumed only after mightiest 
labours. You enjoy the fruit of victory who are igno- 
rant of war ; we, God helping us, will reign ; we will 
consult for the safety of the State, while your name 
marks the year. You overtop Sovereigns in your good 
fortune, since you wear the highest honours, and yet 
have not the annoyances of ruling. Wherefore pluck up 
spirit and confidence. It becometh Consuls to be gene- 
rous. Do not be anxious about your private fortune, 
you who have elected to win the public favour by your 
gifts. It is for this cause [because the Consul has to 
spend lavishly during his year of office] that we make 
a difference between your dignity and all others. Other 
magistrates we appoint, even though they do not 
ask for the office. To the Consulship we promote only 
those who are candidates for the dignity, those who 
know that their fortunes are equal to its demands; 
otherwise we might be imposing a burden rather than 
a favour. Enjoy therefore, in a becoming manner, the 
honour which you wished for. This mode of spending 
money is a legitimate form of canvassing 3 . Be illus- 
trious in the world, be prosperous in your own life, leave 
an example for the happy imitation of your posterity.' 

1 ' Pinge vastos humeros vario colore palmatae.' 

2 ' Validain manum victoriali scipione nobilita.' 

3 ' Hie est ambitus qui probatur ;' or, ' allowable bribery.' 

296 Cassiodori Variae. 


Patrici- 'In olden times the Patricians were said to derive 

ate * their origin from Jupiter, whose priests they were. 

Mythology apart, they derived their name from Patres, 

the dignity of priest having blended itself with that of 


' The great distinction of the Patriciate is that it is a 
rank held for life, like that of the priesthood, from which 
it sprang. The Patrician takes precedence of Praefects 
and all other dignities save one (the Consulship), and 
that is one which we ourselves sometimes assume. 

'Ascend then the pinnacle of the Patriciate. You 
may have yet further honours to receive from us, if you 
bear yourself worthily in this station.' 


[On account of the importance of the office a transla- 
tion of the whole formula is here attempted, though with 
some hesitation on account of its obscure allusions.] 
Praeto- 'If the origin of any dignity can confer upon it 
Praefec- s P ec i a l renown and promise of future usefulness, the 
ture. Praetorian Praefecture may claim this distinction, illus- 
trated as its establishment was by the wisdom of this 
world, and also stamped by the Divine approval. For 
when Pharaoh, King of Egypt, was oppressed by strange 
visions of future famine, there was found a blessed man, 
even Joseph, able to foretell the future with truth, and 
to suggest the wisest precautions for the people's danger. 
He first consecrated the insignia of this dignity ; he in 
majesty entered the official chariot 1 , raised to this height 
of honour, in order that his wisdom might confer bless- 

1 ' Ipse carpentum reverendus ascendit.' The carpentum was one great 
mark of the dignity of the Praetorian Praefect, as of his inferior, the Prae- 
fectus TJrbis. 

Book VI. Formulae 2-3. 297 

ings on the people which they could not receive from the 
mere power of the Ruler. 

' From that Patriarch is this officer now called Father 
of the Empire ; his name is even to-day celebrated by 
the voice of the crier, who calls upon the Judge to show 
himself not unworthy of his example. Rightly was it 
felt that he to whom such power was committed should 
always be thus delicately reminded of his duty. 

* For some prerogatives are shared in common between 
ourselves and the holder of this dignity. [The next sen- 
tence 1 I leave untranslated, as I am not sure of the 
meaning. Manso (p. 343) translates it, 'He forces fugi- 
tives from justice, without regard to the lapse of time, 
to come before his tribunal.'] He inflicts heavy fines 
on offenders, he distributes the public revenue as he 
thinks fit, he has a like power in bestowing rights of 
free conveyance 2 , he appropriates unclaimed property, 
he punishes the offences of Provincial Judges, he pro- 
nounces sentence by word of mouth [whereas all other 
Judges had to read their decisions from their tablets]. 

' What is there that he has not entrusted to him whose 
very speech is Judgment? He may almost be said to 
have the power of making laws, since the reverence due 
to him enables him to finish law-suits without appeal. 

' On his entrance into the palace he, like ourselves, is 
adored by the assembled throng 3 , and an office of such 
high rank appears to excuse a practice which in other 
cases would be considered matter for accusation 4 . 

' In power, no dignity is his equal. He judges every- 
where as the representative of the Sovereign 5 . No 

1 ' Exhibet enim sine prescriptione longinquos.' 

2 ' Evectionea,' free passes by the Cursus Publicus. 

3 'Ingressus palatium nostra consuetudine frequenter adoratur.' We 
know from Lydus (De Mag. ii. 9) that the highest officers of the army 
knelt at the entrance of the Praetorian Praefect. Perhaps we need not 
infer from this passage that Oriental prostration was used either towards 
Theodoric or his Praefect. 

4 ' Et tale officium morem videtur solvere, quod alios potuit accusare.' 

5 ' Vice sacra ubique judicat.' 

298 Cassiodori Variae. 

soldier marks out to him the limits of his jurisdic- 
tion, except the official of the Master of the Soldiery. I 
suppose that the ancients wished [even the Praefect] to 
yield something to those who were to engage in war on 
behalf of the Republic. 

' He punishes with stripes even the Curials, who are 
called in the laws a Lesser Senate. 

'In his own official staff (officium) he is invested 
with peculiar privileges ; since all men can see that he 
lays his commands on men of such high quality that 
not even the Judges of Provinces may presume to look 
down upon them. The staff is therefore composed 
of men of the highest education, energetic, strong- 
minded 1 , intent on prompt obedience to the orders of 
their head, and not tolerating obstruction from others. 
To those who have served their time in his office, he 
grants the rank of Tribunes and Notaries, thus making 
his attendants equal to those who, mingled with the 
chiefs of the State, wait upon our own presence. 

' We joyfully accomplish that which he arranges, since 
our reverence for his office constrains us to give imme- 
diate effect to his decrees. He deserves this at our 
hands, since his forethought nourishes the Palace, pro- 
cures the daily rations of our servants, provides the 
salaries even of the Judges themselves 2 . By his arrange- 
ments he satiates the hungry appetites of the ambas- 
sadors of the [barbarous] nations 3 . And though other 
dignities have their specially defined prerogatives, by 
him everything that comes within the scope of our 
wisely-tempered sway is governed. 

' Take therefore, from this Indiction, on your shoulders 
the noble burden of all these cares. Administer it with 

1 'Officium plane geniatum, efficax, instruction et tota animi firmitate 

2 ' Humanitates quoque judicibus ipsis facit.' 

3 ' Legates gentium voraces explet ordinationibus suis.' Voraces seems 
to give a better sense than the other reading, veraces. 

Book VI. Formulae 3-4. 299 

vigour and with utmost loyalty, that your rule may be 
prosperous to us and useful to the Kepublic. The more 
various the anxieties, the greater your glory. Let that 
glory beam forth, not in our Palace only, but be reflected 
in far distant Provinces. Let your prudence be equal 
to your power ; yea, let the fourfold virtue [of the Pla- 
tonic philosophy] be seated in your conscience. Remem- 
ber that your tribunal is placed so high that, when seated 
there, you should think of nothing sordid, nothing mean. 
Weigh well what you ought to say, seeing that it is 
listened to by so many. Let the public records contain 
nothing [of your saying] which any need blush to read. 
The good governor not only has no part nor lot in 
injustice ; unless he is ever diligently doing some noble 
work he incurs blame even for his inactivity. For if 
that most holy author [Moses ?] be consulted, it will be 
seen that it is a kind of priesthood to fill the office of the 
Praetorian Praefecture in a becoming manner.' 


* You, to whose care Rome is committed, are exalted Praefec- 
by that charge to a position of the highest dignity. The 
Senate also is presided over by you ; and the Senators, 
who wield full power in that assembly, tremble when 
they have to plead their own cause at your tribunal. 
But this is because they, who are the makers of laws, 
are subject to the laws ; and so are we too, though not to 
a Judge. 

'Behave in a manner worthy of your high office. 
Treat the Consulars with deference. Put away every 
base thought when you cross the threshold of every 
virtue. If you wish to avoid unpopularity, avoid receiv- 
ing bribes. It is a grand thing when it can be said that 
Judges will not accept that which thousands are eager to 
offer them. 

'To your care is committed not only Rome herself 

300 Cassiodori Variae. 

(though Rome includes the world 1 ), but, by ancient law, 
all within the hundredth milestone. 

'You judge, on appeal, causes brought from certain 
Provinces defined by law. Your staff is composed of 
learned men ; eloquent they can hardly help being, since 
they are always hearing the masters of eloquence. You 
ride in your Carpentum through a populace of nobles 2 ; 
oh, act so as to deserve their shouts of welcome ! How 
will you deserve their favour"? By seeing that mer- 
chandise is sold without venality 3 ; that the fires kindled 
to heat the wholesome baths are not chilled by corrup- 
tion ; that the games, which are meant for the plea- 
sure of the people, are not by partisanship made a 
cause of strife. For so great is the power of glorious 
truth, that even in the affairs of the stage justice is 
desired 4 . Take then the robe of Romulus, and adminis- 
ter the laws of Rome. Other honours await you if you 
behave worthily in this office, and above all, if you win 
the applause of the Senate.' 


[This letter is particularly interesting, from the fact 
that it describes Cassiodorus' own office, that which he 
filled during many years of the reign of Theodoric, and 
in virtue of which he wrote the greater part of his ' Va- 
rious Letters.'] 

Quaestor- 'No Minister has more reason to glory in his office 
than the Quaestor, since it brings him into constant and 
intimate communication with Ourselves. The Quaestor 
has to learn our inmost thoughts, that he may utter 

1 ' Quamvis in ilia contineantur universal 

2 ' Carpento veheris per nobilem plebem.' 

3 i.e. probably, * that you are not bribed by monopolists.' Perhaps there 
is a reference to the Annona Publica. 

* ' Tanta est enim vis gloriosae veritatis, ut etiam in rebus scenicis aequi 
tas desideretur.' 

Book VI. Formula 5. 301 

them to our subjects. Whenever we are in doubt as to 
any matter we ask our Quaestor, who is the treasure- 
house of public fame, the cupboard of laws ; who has to 
be always ready for a sudden call, and must exercise 
the wonderful powers which, as Cicero has pointed out, 
are inherent in the art of an orator. He should so paint 
the delights of virtue and the terrors of vice, that his 
eloquence should almost make the sword of the magis- 
trate needless. 

' What manner of man ought the Quaestor to be, who 
reflects the very image of his Sovereign? If, as is 
often our custom, we chance to listen to a suit, what 
authority must there be in his tongue who has to speak 
the King's words in the King's own presence"? He 
must have knowledge of the law, wariness in speech, 
firmness of purpose, that neither gifts nor threats may 
cause him to swerve from justice. For in the interests 
of Equity we suffer even ourselves to be contradicted, 
since we too are bound to obey her. Let your learning 
be such that you may set forth every subject on which 
you have to treat, with suitable embellishments. 

t Moved therefore by the fame of your wisdom and 
eloquence, we bestow upon you, by God's grace, the 
dignity of the Quaestorship, which is the glory of letters, 
the temple of civilitas, the mother of all the dignities, 
the home of continence, the seat of all the virtues. 

* To you the Provinces transmit their prayers. From 
you the Senate seeks the aid of law. You are expected 
to suffice for the needs of all who seek from us the 
remedies of the law. But when you have done all this, 
be not elated with your success, be not gnawed with 
envy, rejoice not at the calamities of others ; for what 
is hateful in the Sovereign cannot be becoming in the 

' Exercise the power of the Prince in the condition of 
a subject ; and may you render a good account to the 
Judges at the end of your term of office.' 

302 Cassiodori Variae. 


[The dignity and powers of the Master of the Offices 
were continually rising throughout the Fourth and Fifth 
Centuries at the cost of the Praetorian Praefect, many of 
whose functions were transferred to the Master.] 
Master- ' The Master's is a name of dignity. To him belongs 
of *the ^e discipline of the Palace ; he calms the stormy ranks 
Offices, of the insolent Scholares [the household troops, 10,000 in 
number, in the palace of the Eastern Emperor, according 
to Lydus (ii. 24)]. He introduces the Senators to our 
presence, cheers them when they tremble, calms them 
when they are speaking, sometimes inserts a word or 
two of his own, that all may be laid in an orderly 
manner before us. It rests with him to fix a day for 
the admission of a suitor to our Aulicwm Consistorium, 
and to fulfil his promise. The opportune velocity of the 
post-horses [the care of the Cursus Publicus] is diligently 
watched over by him 1 . 

'The ambassadors of foreign powers are introduced 
by him, and their evectiones [free passes by the postal- 
service] are received from his hands 2 . 

'To an officer with these great functions Antiquity 
gave great prerogatives: that no Provincial Governor 
should assume office without his consent, and that 
appeals should come to him from their decisions. He 
has no charge of collecting money, only of spending 
it. It is his to appoint peraequatores 3 of provisions 
in the capital, and a Judge to attend to this matter. 
He also superintends the pleasures of the people, and is 

1 According to Lydus (ii. 10), the Cursus Publicus was transferred from 
the Praefect to the Master, and afterwards, in part, retransferred to 
the Praefect. 

2 ' Per eum nominis nostri destinatur evectio.' The above is a conjectural 

3 Are these Superintendents of the Markets, charged with the regulation 
of prices ? 

Book VI. Formulae 6-7. 303 

bound to keep them from sedition by a generous exhibi- 
tion of shows. The members of his staff, when they have 
served their full time, are adorned with the title of 
Princeps, and take their places at the head of the 
Praetorian cohorts and those of the Urban Praefecture 
[the officials serving in the bureaux of those two 
Praefects] a mark of favour which almost amounts to 
injustice, since he who serves in one office (the Master's) 
is thereby put at the head of all those who have been 
serving in another (the Praefect's) 1 .' 

[We learn from Lydus how intense was the jealousy 
of the grasping and aspiring Magistriani felt by the 
Praefect's subordinates ; and we may infer from this 
passage that Cassiodorus thought that there was some 
justification for this feeling.] 

' The assistant (Adjutor) of the Magister is also pre- 
sent at our audiences, a distinguished honour for his 

' Take therefore this illustrious office and discharge it 
worthily, that, in all which you do, you may show your- 
self a true Magister. If you should in anywise go 
astray (which God forbid), where should morality be 
found upon earth 1 ?' 


'Yours is the high and pleasing office of administering Office of 
the bounty of your Sovereign 2 . Through you we dis- gj^d f 
pense our favours and relieve needy suppliants on New Lar - 
Year's Day. It is your business to see that our face 

1 ' Miroque modo inter Praetorianas cohortes et Urbanae Praefecturae 
milites videantur invenisse primatum, a quibus tibi humile solvebatur 
obsequium. Sic in favore magni honoris injustitia quaedam a legdbus 
venit, dum alienis excubiis praeponitur, qui alibi militaese declaratur.' 

2 ' Eegalibus magna profecti felicitas militare donis . . . Laetitia publica 
militia tua est.' Observe the continued use of military terms for what we 
call the Civil Service. 

304 Cassiodori Variae. 

is imprinted on our coins, a reminder to our subjects 
of our ceaseless care on their behalf, and a memorial of 
our reign to future ages. 

* To this your regular office we also add the place of 
Primicerius [Primicerius Notariorum ?], so that you 
are the channel through which honours as well as 
largesses flow. Not only the Judges of the Provinces 
are subject to you, even the Proceres Chartarum (?) 
have not their offices assured to them till you have 
confirmed the instrument. You have also the care of 
the royal robes. The sea-coasts and their products, 
and therefore merchants, are under your sway. The 
commerce of salt, that precious mineral, rightly classed 
with silken robes and pearls, is placed under your 

'Take therefore these two dignities, the Comitiva 
Sacrarum Largitionum and the Primiceriatus. If some 
of the ancient privileges of your office have been re- 
trenched [some functions, probably, taken from the 
Comes Sacrarum Largitionum and assigned to the Conies 
Patrimonii], comfort yourself with the thought that you 
have two dignities instead of one.' 


Office of 'Your chief business, as the name of your office 
Private 1 i m pli es ' i s ^ govern the royal estates by the instru- 
Domains. mentality of the Rationales under you. 

'This work alone, however, would have given you 
a jurisdiction only over slaves [those employed on the 
royal domains] ; and as a slave is not a person in the 
eye of the law, it seemed unworthy of the dignity 
of Latium to confine your jurisdiction to these men. 
Some urban authority has therefore been given you 
in addition to that which you exercise over these boors : 
cases of incest, and of pollution or spoliation of graves, 

Book VI. Formulae 8-9. 305 

come before you. Thus the chastity of the living and 
the security of the dead are equally your care. In 
the Provinces you superintend the tribute-collectors 
(Canonicarios), you admonish the cultivators of the 
soil (Possessores), and you claim for the Eoyal Exchequer 
property to which no heirs are forthcoming 1 . Deposited 
monies also, the owners of which are lost by lapse of 
time, are searched out by you and brought into our 
Exchequer, since those who by our permission enjoy 
all their own property ought willingly and without 
sense of loss to offer us that which belongs to other 

' Take then the honour of Comes Privatarum : it also 
is a courtly dignity, and you will augment it by your 
worthy fulfilment of its functions.' 


' To our distant servants we send long papers with Office of 
instructions as to their conduct ; but you, admitted to th^Pa- 
our daily converse, do not need these. You are to trimony. 
undertake the care of our royal patrimony. 

' Do not give in to all the suggestions of our servants 
on these domains, who are apt to think that everything 
is permitted them because they represent the King ; but 
rather incline the scale against them. You will have 
to act much in our sight; and as the rising sun 
discloses the true colours of objects, so the King's 
constant presence reveals the Minister's character in 
its true light. Avoid loud and harsh tones in pro- 
nouncing your decisions: when we hear you using 
these, we shall know that you are in the wrong. Exter- 
nal acts and bodily qualities show the habit of the mind. 
We know a proud man by his swaggering gait, an 
angry one by his flashing eyes, a crafty one by his 

1 ' Caduca bona non sinis esse vacantia.' 

306 Cassiodori Variae. 

downcast look, a fickle one by his wandering gaze, an 
avaricious one by his hooked nails. 

' Take then the office of Count of the Patrimony, and 
discharge it uprightly. Be expeditious in your decisions 
on the complaints of the tillers of the soil. Justice 
speedily granted is thereby greatly enhanced in value, 
and though it is really the suitor's right it charms him 
as if it were a favour. 

'Attend also to the provision of suitable delicacies 
for our royal table. It is a great thing that ambas- 
sadors coming from all parts of the world should see 
rare dainties at our board, and such an inexhaustible 
supply of provisions brought in by the crowds of our 
servants that they are almost ready to think the food 
grows again in the kitchen, whither they see the dishes 
carried with the broken victuals. These banqueting 
times are, and quite deservedly, your times for ap- 
proaching us with business, when no one else is allowed 
to do so.' 


[Bestowal of Brevet-rank on persons outside the Civil 


Codicilli ' There are cases in which men whom it is desirable 
for the Sovereign to honour are unable, from delicate 
health or slender fortunes, to enter upon an official 
career. For instance, a poor nobleman may dread 
the expenses of the Consulship ; a man illustrious by 
his wisdom may be unable to bear the worries of a 
Praefecture ; an eloquent tongue may shun the weight 
of a Quaestorship. In these cases the laws have wisely 
ordained that we may give such persons the rank which 
they merit by Codicilli Vacantes. It must always be 
understood, however, that in each dignity those who 
thus obtain it rank behind those who have earned it 
by actual service. Otherwise we should have all men 


Book VI. Formulae 10-13. 307 

flocking into these quiet posts, if the workers were not 
preferred to men of leisure x . 

' Take therefore, by these present codicils, the rank 
which you deserve, though you have not earned it by 
your official career.' 


' The bestowal of honour, though it does not change Ulustra- 
the nature of a man, induces him to consider his own 
reputation more closely, and to abstain from that which 
may stain it 2 . 

' Take therefore the rank (without office) of an Illus- 
trious Count of the Domestics 3 , and enjoy that greatest 
luxury of worthy minds power to attend to your own 

' For what can be sweeter than to find yourself 
honoured when you enter the City, and yet to be 
able to cultivate your own fields; to abstain from 
fraudful gains, and yet see your barns overflowing with 
the fruit of your own sweet toil ? 

'But even as the seed and the soil must co-operate 
to produce the harvest, so do we sow in you the seed 
of this dignity, trusting that your own goodness of 
heart will give the increase.' 



[A similar honour to that which is conferred on an 
English statesman who, without receiving any place in 
! the Ministry, is ' sworn of the Privy Council.'] 

1 * Alioqui omnea ad quietas possunt currere dignitates, si laborantes 
minime praeferantur ociosis.' 

2 'Noblesse oblige.' 

3 ' Cape igitur . . . Comitivae Domesticorum Illustratum Vacantem.' 

X 2 

308 Gassiodori Variae. 

'It is a delightful thing to enjoy the pleasures of 
high rank without having to undergo the toils and 
annoyances of office, which often make a man loathe 
the very dignity which he eagerly desired. 

' The rank of Comes is one which is reached by 
Governors (Rectores) of Provinces after a year's tenure 
of office, and by the Counsellors of the Praefect, whose 
functions are so important that we look upon them as 
almost Quaestors. 

'Their rank 1 gives the holder of it, though only a 
Spectabilis, admission to our Consistory, where he sits 
side by side with all the Illustres. 

'We bestow it upon you, and name you a Comes Primi 
Ordinis, thereby indicating that you are to take your 
place at the head of all the other Spectabiles and next 
after the Illustres. See that you imitate the latter, 
and that you are not surpassed in excellence of character 
by any of those below you/ 


Honor- 'Great toils and great perils are the portion of an 
motion" officer of the Courts in giving effect to their sentences, 
for a Co- it is easy for the Judge to say, " Let so and so be done;" 
' but on the unhappy officer falls all the difficulty and 
all the odium of doing it. He has to track out offenders 
and hunt them to their very beds, to compel the contu- 
macious to obey the law, to make the proud learn their 
equality before it. If he lingers over the business 
assigned to him, the plaintiff complains ; if he is 
energetic, the defendant calls out. The very honesty 
with which he addresses himself to the work is sure 

1 Betokened by the expression ' Ociosum cingulum.' 

Book VI. Formulae 13-14. 309 

to make him enemies, enemies perhaps among powerful 
persons, who next year may be his superiors in office, 
and thus subjects him to all sorts of accusations which 
he may find it very hard to disprove. In short, if we 
may say it without offence to the higher dignitaries, 
it is far easier to discharge without censure the functions 
of a Judge than those of the humble officer who gives 
effect to his decrees. 

'Wherefore, in reward for your long and faithful 
service, and in accordance with ancient usage, we bestow 
on you the rank of a Count of the First Order, and 
ordain that if anyone shall molest you on account of 
your acts done in the discharge of your duties, he shall 
pay a fine of so many [perhaps ten =^400] pounds of 

[This letter will be found well worth studying in the 
original, as giving a picture of the kind of opposition 
met with by the men who were charged with the 
execution of the orders of the Rectores Provinciarum, 
and whose functions were themselves partly judicial, 
varying between those of a Master in Chancery and 
those of a Sheriff's officer. Throughout, the Civil Service 
is spoken of in military language. The officer is called 
miles, and his duty is excubiae.'] 


'We desire that our Senate should grow and flourish Senato- 
abundantly. As a parent sees the increase of his family, nal rank< 
as a husbandman the growth of his trees with joy, so 
we the growth of the Senate. We therefore desire 
that Graius should be included in that virtuous and 
praiseworthy assembly 1 . This is a new kind of graft- 

1 A conjectural translation of ' Sic nos virtutum jucundissimas laudes 
incinctum Graium desideramus includere.' Perhaps 'incinctum* means, 
'though not girded with the belt of office.' Graium must surely be a 
proper name, and this document is therefore, strictly speaking, not a 
' Formula.' 

310 Cassiodori Variae. 

ing, in which the less noble shoot is grafted on to the 
nobler stock. As a candle shines at night, but pales 
in the full sunlight, so does everyone, however illustrious 
by birth or character, who is introduced into your 
majestic body. Open your Curia, receive our candidate. 
He is already predestined to the Senate upon whom we 
have conferred the dignity of the Laticlave.' 


Vicariate 'Though nominally only the agent of another [the 
City of Praefectus Urbi] you have powers and privileges of 
Rome. vour own which almost entitle you to rank with the 
Praefects. Suitors plead before you in causes otherwise 
heard only before Praefects 1 ; you pronounce sentence 
in the name of the King 2 [not of the Praefect] ; and you 
have jurisdiction even in capital cases. You wear the 
chlamys, and are not to be saluted by passers-by except 
when thus arrayed, as if the law wished you to be 
always seen in military garb. [The chlamys was 
therefore at this time a strictly military dress.] In 
all these things the glory of the Praefecture seems to 
be exalted in you, as if one should say, "How great 
must the Praefect be, if his Vicar is thus honoured!" 
Like the highest dignitaries you ride in a state carriage 3 . 
You have jurisdiction everywhere within the fortieth 
milestone from the City. You preside over the games 
at Praeneste, sitting in the Consul's seat. You enter 
the Senate-house itself, that palace of liberty 4 . Even 
Senators and Consulars have to make their request to 
you, and may be injured by you. 

' Take therefore this dignity, and wield it with modera- 
tion and courage.' 

1 ' Partes apud te sub Praetorian^, advocatione confligunt' (?). 

2 ' Vice sacra sententiam dicis.' 

3 ' Carpentum.' * ' Aula libertatis.' 

Book VI. Formulae 15-17. 311 


f It is most important that the secrets of the Sovereign, Notaries. 
which many men so eagerly desire to discover, should 
be committed to persons of tried fidelity. A good 
secretary should be like a well-arranged escritoire, full 
of information when you want it, but absolutely silent 
at other times. Nay, he must even "be able to dissimulate 
his knowledge, for keen questioners can often read in 
the face what the lips utter not. [Cf. the description of 
the Quaestor Decoratus in v. 3.] 

'Our enquiries, keen-scented as they are for all 
men of good life and conversation, have brought your 
excellent character before us. We therefore ordain that 
you shall henceforth be a Notary. In due course of 
service you will attain the rank of Primicerius, which 
will entitle you to enter the Senate, "the Curia of liberty." 
Moreover, should you then arrive at the dignity of Illus- 
tris or at the [Comitiva] Vacans, you will be preferred to 
all who are in the same rank but who have not acquired 
it by active service 1 . 

' Enter then upon this duty, cheered by the prospect 
of one day attaining to the highest honours.' 


[We have no word corresponding to this title. Registrar, Referen- 
Referee, Solicitor, each expresses only part of the duties dari1 ' 
of the Referendarius, whose business it was, on behalf of 
the Court, to draw up a statement of the conflicting 
claims of the litigants before it. See the interesting 
letters (v. 40 and 41) describing the useful services 
rendered in this capacity by Cyprian in the King's 

1 I think this must be the meaning of the sentence : ' Additur etiam 
perfuncti laboris aliud munus, ut si quo modo ad Illustratum vel Vacantem 
meruerit pervenire, omnibus debeat anteponi, qui Codicillis Illustratibus 
probantur ornari.' 

312 Cassiodori Varlae. 

Court of Appeal. His duties seem to have been very 
similar to those which in the Court of the Praetorian 
Praefect were discharged by the officer called Ab Actis 
(See p. 107).] 

' Great is the privilege of being admitted to such close 
converse with the King as you will possess, but great also 
are the responsibilities and the anxieties of the Referen- 
darius. In the midst of the hubbub of the Court he 
has to make out the case of the litigant, and to clothe 
it in language suitable for our ears. If he softens it 
down ever so little in his repetition of it, the claimant 
declares that he has been bribed, that he is hostile to 
his suit. A man who is pleading his own cause may 
soften down a word or two here and there, if he see 
that the Court is against him ; but the Referendarius 
dares not alter anything. Then upon him rests the 
responsibility of drawing up our decree, adding nothing, 
omitting nothing. Hard task to speak our words in 
our own presence. 

'Take then the office of Referendarius, and show by 
your exercise of it to what learning men may attain by 
sharing our conversation. Under us it is impossible 
for an officer of the Court to be unskilled in speech. 
Like a whetstone we sharpen the intellects of our 
courtiers, and polish them by practice at our bar 1 .' 


Praefec- * If the benefit of the largest number of citizens is a 

nonae. test f the dignity of an office yours is certainly a 

glorious one. You have to prepare the Annona of 

the sacred City, and to feed the whole people as at 

1 ' Sub nobis enim non licet esse imperitos ; quando in vicem cotis in- 
genia splendida reddimus, quae causarum assiduitate polimus.' Strange 
words to put into the mouth of a monarch who could not write. 

Book VI. Formulae 18-19. 313 

one board. You run up and down through the shops 
of the bakers, looking after the weight and fineness 
of the bread, and not thinking any office mean by 
which you may win the affections of the citizens. 

' You mount the chariot of the Praefect of the City, 
and are displayed in closest companionship with him 
at the games. Should a sudden tumult arise by reason 
of a scarcity of loaves, you have to still it by promising 
a liberal distribution. It was from his conduct in this 
office that Pompey attained the highest dignities and 
earned the surname of the Great. 

' The pork-butchers also (Suarii) are subject to your 

'It is true that the corn is actually provided by 
the Praetorian Praefect, but you see that it is worked 
up into elegant bread 1 . 

' Even so Ceres discovered corn, but Pan taught men 
how to bake it into bread; whence its name (Panis, 
from Pan). 

'Take then this office: discharge it faithfully, and 
weigh, more accurately than gold, the bread by which 
the Quirites live.' 


' The doctor helps us when all other helpers seem to Comes 
fail. By his art he finds out things about a man of 
which he himself is ignorant ; and his prognosis of a 
case, though founded on reason, seems to the ignorant 
like prophecy. 

'It is disgraceful that there should be a president 
of the lascivious pleasures of the people (Tribunus 
Voluptatum) and none of this healing art. Excellent 

1 ' Quando in qua vis abundantia querela non tollitur, si panis elegantia 
nulla servetur.' 

314 Cassiodori Variae. 

too may your office be in enabling you to control 
the squabbles of the doctors. They ought not to 
quarrel. At the beginning of their exercise of their 
art they take a sort of priestly oath to hate wickedness 
and to love purity. Take then this rank of Comes 
Archiatrorum, and have the distinguished honour of 
presiding over so many skilled practitioners and of 
moderating their disputes. 

'Leave it to clumsy men to ask their patients "if 
they have had good sleep ; if the pain has left them." 
Do you rather incline the patient to ask you about 
his own malady, showing him that you know more about 
it than he does. The patient's pulse, the patient's 
water, tell to a skilled physician the whole story of 
his disease. 

' Enter our palace unbidden ; command us, whom 
all other men obey ; weary us if you will with fasting, 
and make us do the very opposite of that which we 
desire, since all this is your prerogative.' 


Consula- < You bear among your trappings the axes and the 
rods of the Consul, as a symbol of the nature of the 
jurisdiction which you exercise in the Provinces. 

' In some Provinces you even wear the paenula 
(military cloak) and ride in the carpentum (official 
chariot), as a proof of your dignity. 

'You must not think that because your office is 
allied to that of Consul any lavish expenditure by 
way of largesse is necessary. By no means ; but it is 
necessary that you should abstain from all unjust gains. 
Nothing is worse than a mixture of rapacity and 

' Eespect the property of the Provincials, and your 
tenure of office will be without blame. 

Book VI. Formulae 20-21. 315 

'Receive therefore, for this Indiction, the office of 
Consular in such and such a Province, and let your 
moderation appear to all the inhabitants.' 


[The distinction between the powers of a Rector 
and those of a Consularis seems to have been very 
slight, if it existed at all ; but the dignity of the 
latter office was probably somewhat the greater.] 

'It is important to repress crime on the spot. IfKector 
all criminal causes had to wait till they could be tried ^^ 
in the capital, robbers would grow so bold as to be 
intolerable. Hence the advantage of Provincial Gover- 
nors. Receive then for this Indiction the office of 
Rector of such and such a Province. Look at the 
broad stripe (laticlave) on your purple robe, and re- 
member the dignity which is betokened by that bright 
garment, which poets say was first woven by Venus 
for her son Priapus, that the son's beautiful robe might 
attest the mother's loveliness. 

'You have to collect the public revenues, and to 
report to the Sovereign all important events in your 
Province. You may judge even Senators and the 
officers of Praefects. Your name comes before that of 
even dignified Provincials, and you are called Brother 
by the Sovereign. See that your character corresponds 
to this high vocation. Your subjects will not fear you 
if they see that your own actions are immoral. There 
can be no worse slavery than to sit on the judgment- 
seat, knowing that the men who appear before you are 
possessors of some disgraceful secret by which they can 
blast your reputation. 

' Refrain from unholy gains, and we will reward you 
all the more liberally.' 

316 Cassiodori Variae. 


Comitiva ' We must provide such Governors for our distant 
sana. U possessions that appeals from them shall not be frequent. 
Many men would rather lose a just cause than have 
the expense of coming all the way from Sicily to de- 
fend it ; and as for complaints against a Governor, 
we should be strongly inclined to think that a com- 
plaint presented by such distant petitioners must be 

'Act therefore with all the more caution in the office 
which we bestow upon you for this Indiction. You 
have all the pleasant pomp of an official retinue pro- 
vided for you at our expense. Do not let your soldiers 
be insolent to the cultivators of the soil (possessores). 
Let them receive their rations and be satisfied with 
them, nor mix in matters outside their proper functions. 
Be satisfied with the dignity which your predecessors 
held. It ought not to be lowered ; but do not seek to 
exalt it.' 

Comitiva { As the sun sends forth his rays so we send out 
tana? 01 our servants to the various cities of our dominions, to 
adorn them with the splendour of their retinue, and 
to facilitate the untying of the knots of the law by 
the multitude of jurisconsults who follow in their 
train. Thus we sow a liberal crop of official salaries, 
and reap our harvest in the tranquillity of our subjects. 
For this Indiction we send you as Count to weigh the 
causes of the people of Naples. It is a populous city, 
and one abounding in delights by sea and land. You 
may lead there a most delicious life, if your cup be not 
mixed with bitterness by the criticisms of the citizens 
on your judgments. You will sit on a jewelled tri- 

Book VI. Formulae 22-35. 317 

bunal, and the Praetorium will be filled with your 
officers ; but you will also be surrounded by a multi- 
tude of fastidious spectators, who assuredly, in their 
conversation, will judge the Judge. See then that you 
walk warily. Your power extends for a certain dis- 
tance along the coast, and both the tyiyer and seller 
have to pay you tribute. We give you the chance 
of earning the applause of a vast audience: do you 
so act that your Sovereign may take pleasure in multi- 
plying his gifts.' 


* You pay us tribute, but we have conferred honours Honorati 
upon you. We are now sending you a Comes [the 

one appointed in the previous formula], but he will Curiaies 
be a terror only to the evil-disposed. Do you live 
according to reason, since you are reasonable beings, 
and then the laws may take holiday. Your quietness 
is our highest joy 2 .' 

MILITUM;' but this is evidently an inaccurate, 
or at least an insufficient title. 

The letter, though very short, is obscure. Doubtful. 

It starts with the maxim that every staff of officials 
ought to have its own Judge 3 , and then, apparently, 

1 An attempt to translate ' Honoratis possessoribus et curialibus civitatis 

2 'Erit nostrum gaudium vestra quies . . . Degite moribus compositis, 
ut vivatis legibus feriatis.' 

3 ' Omnes apparitiones decet habere judices suos. Nam cui praesul adi- 
mitur et militia denegatur.' 

318 Cassiodori Variae. 

proceeds to make an exception to this rule by making 
the persons addressed the civil or military function- 
aries of Naples subject to the Comes Neapolitans 
who was appointed by the Twenty-third Formula. No 
reason is given for this exception, except an unintelli- 
gible one about preserving the yearly succession of 
Judges 1 ; but the persons are assured that their salaries 
shall be safe 2 . 

1 ' Ut judicibus annul, successione reparatis, vobis solennitas non pereat 

3 ' Vos non patimur emolumentorum commoda perdere.' 




' YOUE dignity, unlike that of most civil officers, Comitiva 
is guarded by the sword of war. See however that^ vin ~ 
this terrible weapon is only drawn on occasions of 
absolute necessity, and only wielded for the punishment 
of evil-doers. Anyone who is determining a case of 
life and death should decide slowly, since any other 
sentence is capable of correction, but the dead man 
cannot be recalled to life. Let the ensigns of your 
power be terrible to drivers-away of cattle, to thieves 
and robbers; but let innocence rejoice when she sees 
the tokens of approaching succour. Let no one pervert 
your will by bribes : the sword of justice is sheathed 
when gold is taken. Receive then for this Indiction 
the dignity of Count in such and such a Province. So 
use your power that you may be able to defend your 
actions when reduced to a private station, though 
indeed, if you serve us well in this office, we are 
minded to promote you to yet higher dignities.' 


[The Praeses had practically the same powers as 
the Consularis (v. 20) and the Rector (v. 21), but 

320 Cassiodori Variae. 

occupied a less dignified position, being only a 'Per- 
fectissimus,' not a ' Clarissimus 1 .'] 

Praesida- 'It has been wisely ordered by the Ancients that a 
Provincial Governor's term of office should be only an- 
nual. Thus men are prevented from growing arrogant 
by long tenure of power, and we are enabled to reward 
a larger number of aspirants. Get through one year of 
office if you can without blame : even that is not an easy 
matter. It rests then with us to prolong the term of a 
deserving ruler 2 , since we are not keen to remove those 
whom we feel to be governing justly. Receive then for 
this Indiction the Praesidatus of such and such a Pro- 
vince, and so act that the tiller of the soil (possessor) 
may bring us thanks along with his tribute. Follow the 
good example of your predecessors : carefully avoid the 
bad. Remember how full your Province is of nobles, 
whose good report you may earn but cannot compel. 
You will find it a* delightful reward, when you travel 
through the neighbouring Provinces, to hear your praises 
sounded there where your power extends not. You know 
our will: it is all contained in the laws of the State. 
Govern in accordance with these, and you shall not go 



Comitiva [Dahn remarks ('Konige der Germanen' iv. i57) : ' We 
rum per mu st_o__thojoughlyinto the question of this office. 
singulas The Ugow^loom* is the most important, in fact 

almost the only new dignity in the Gothic State, and 
the formula of his installation is the chief proof of 
the Qoexistence of Roman and_Gothic_jaw in this 
kingdom? r^ave~Thefe^re translated this^Iofmula 
at full length.] 

1 See p. 92. 

2 * Nostrum est merentibus tempus augere.' The limit of one year might 
therefore be exceeded by favour of the Sovereign. 

Book VII. Formula 3. 321 

* As we know that, by God's help, Goths are dwelling 
intermingled among you, in order to prevent the 
trouble (indisciplinatio) which is wont to arise among 
partners (consortes) we have thought it right to send 
to you as Count, A B, a sublime person, a man already 
proved to be of high character, in order that he may 
terminate (amputare) any contests arising between two 
Goths according to our edicts ; but that, if any matter 
should arise between a Goth and a born Roman, he 
may, after associating with himself a Roman juriscon- 
sult 1 , decide the strife by fair reason 2 . As between two 
Romans, let the decision rest with the Roman exa- 
miners (cognitores), whom we appoint in the various Pro- 
vinces ; that thus each may keep his own laws, and with 
various Judges one Justice may embrace the whole realm. 
Thus, sharing one common peace, may both nations, if 
God favour us, enjoy the sweets of tranquillity. 

'Know, however, that we view all [our subjects] 
with one impartial love ; but he may commend him- 
self more abundantly to our favour who subdues his 
own will into loving submission to the law 3 . We like 
nothing that is disorderly 4 ; we detest wicked arro- 
gance and all who have anything to do with it. Our 
principles lead us to execrate violent men 5 . In a 
dispute let laws decide, not the strong arm. Why 
should men seek by choice violent remedies, when 
they know that the Courts of Justice are open to them? 
It is for this cause that we pay the Judges their salaries, 
for this that we maintain such large official staffs 
with all their privileges, that we may not allow any- 
thing to grow up among you which may tend towards 
hatred. Since you see that one lordship (imperium) 

1 ' Adhibito sibi prudente Komano.' 2 ' Aequabili ratione.' 

3 ' Qui leges moderata voluntate dilexerit.' To translate this literally 
might give a wrong idea, because with us ' to love the law ' means to be 

4 ' Non amamus aliquid incivile.' 

5 ' Violentos nostra pietas execratur.' 


322 Cassiodori Variae. 

is over you, let there be also one desire in your hearts, 
to live in harmony. 

* Let both nations hear what we have at heart. You 
[oh Goths!] have the Romans as neighbours to your 
lands: even so let them be joined to you in affection. 
You too, oh Romans ! ought dearly to love the Goths, 
\ who in peace swell the numbers of your people and"X 
in war defend the whole Republic 1 . It is fitting 
therefore that you obey the Judge whom we have 
Appointed for you, that you may by all means accom- 
plish all that he may ordain for the preservation of 
the laws ; and thus you will be found to have promoted 
your own interests while obeying our command.' 



Ducatus 'Although promotion among the Spectabiles goes 
solely by seniority, it is impossible to deny that 
those who are employed in the border Provinces have 
a more arduous, and therefore in a sense more 
honourable, office than those who command in the 
peaceful districts of Italy. The former have to deal 
with war, the latter only with the repression of crime. 
The former hear the trumpet's clang, the latter the 
voice of the crier. 

'The Provinces of Raetia are the bars and bolts of 
Italy. Wild and cruel nations ramp outside of them, 
and they, like nets, whence their name 2 , catch the 
Barbarian in their toils and hold him there till the 
hurled arrow can chastise his mad presumption. 

'Receive then for this Indiction the Ducatus Raeti- 
arum. Let your soldiers live on friendly terms with the 
Provincials, avoiding all lawless presumption ; and at 

1 ' Vos autem, Romani, magno studio Gothos diligere debetis, qui et in 
pace numerosos vobis populos faciunt, et universam Rempublicam per bella 

2 Kaetia, from rete, a net. 

Book VII. Formulae 4-5. 323 

the same time let them be constantly on their guard 
against the Barbarians outside. Even bloodshed is often 
prevented by seasonable vigilance.' 


'Much do we delight in seeing the greatness ofCura 
our Kingdom imaged forth in the splendour of our 

' Thus do the ambassadors of foreign nations admire 
our power, for at first sight one naturally believes that 
as is the house so is the inhabitant. 

* The Cyclopes invented the art of working in metal, 
which then passed over from Sicily to Italy. 

' Take then for this Indiction the care of our palace, 
thus receiving the power of transmitting your fame to 
a remote posterity which shall admire your workman- 
ship. See that your new work harmonises well with 
the old. Study Euclid get his diagrams well into your 
mind ; study Archimedes and Metrobius. 

'When we are thinking of rebuilding a city, or of 
founding a fort or a general's quarters, we shall rely 
upon you to express our thoughts on paper [in an 
architect's design]. The builder of walls, the carver of 
marbles, the caster of brass, the vaulter of arches 1 , the 
plasterer, the worker in mosaic, all come to you for 
orders, and you are expected to have a wise answer for 
each. But, then, if you direct them rightly, while theirs 
is the work yours is all the glory. 

' Above all things, dispense honestly what we give you 
for the workmen's wages ; for the labourer who is at ease 
about his victuals works all the better. 

' As a mark of your high dignity you bear a golden 
wand, and amidst the numerous throng of servants walk 
first before the royal footsteps [i.e. last in the procession 

' Camerarum rotator.' 
Y 2, 

326 Cassiodori Variae. 

Act with skill and honesty, and let there be no cor- 
rupt practices in reference to the distribution of the 


Prae- ' Your office, exercised as it is in the City itself, and 

Vigiium un der ^ ne e y es f Patricians and Consuls, is sure to 
Urbis bring you renown if you discharge its duties with 
diligence. You have full power to catch thieves, though 
the law reserves the right of punishing them for another 
official, apparently because it would remember that 
even these detestable plunderers are yet Roman citizens. 
Take then for this Indiction the Praefectura Vigiium. 
- You will be the safety of sleepers, the bulwark of 
houses, the defence of bolts and bars, an unseen scruti- 
neer, a silent judge, one whose right it is to entrap the 
plotters and whose glory to deceive them. Your occu- 
pation is a nightly hunting, most feared when it is not 
seen. You rob the robbers, and strive to circumvent 
the men who make a mock at all other citizens. It 
is only by a sort of sleight of hand that you can throw 
your nets around robbers ; for it is easier to guess the 
riddles of the Sphinx than to detect the whereabouts of 
a flying thief. He looks round him on all sides, ready 
to start off at the sound of an advancing footstep, 
trembling at the thought of a possible ambush. How 
can one catch him who, like the wind, tarries never 
in one place ? Go forth, then, under the starry skies ; 
watch diligently with all the birds of night, and as 
they seek their food in the darkness so do you therein 
hunt for fame. 

'Let there be no corruption, no deeds of darkness 
which the day need blush for. Do this, and you will 
have our support in upholding the rightful privileges 
of yourself and your staff.' 

Book VII. Formulae 7-10. 327 


Contains the same topics as the preceding formula, Praefec- 
rather less forcibly urged, and with no special reference ^ u?-" 
to the City of Ravenna. bis Ka- 

An exhortation at the end not to be too hasty, nor 
to shed blood needlessly, even when dealing with 


' It is a service of pleasure rather than of toil to hold Comitiva 
the dignity of Comes in the harbour of the City of Rome, 
to look forth upon the wide sail-traversed main, to see 
the commerce of all the Provinces tending towards Rome, 
and to welcome travellers arriving with the joy of ended 
peril. Excellent thought of the men of old to provide 
two channels by which strangers might enter the Tiber, 
and to adorn them with those two stately cities [Portus 
and Ostia], which shine like lights upon the watery 
way ! 

* Do you therefore, by your fair administration, make it 
easy for strangers to enter. Do not grasp at more than 
the lawful dues ; for the greedy hand closes a harbour, 
and extortion is as much dreaded by mariners as adverse 
winds. Receive then for this Indiction the Comitiva 
Portus; enjoy the pleasures of the office, and lay it 
down with increased reputation.' 


[Minister of public amusements, the Roman equivalent Tribunus 
to our ' Lord Chamberlain ' in that part of his office 
which relates to the control of theatres.] 

' Though the wandering life of the stage-player seems 

328 Cassiodori Variae. 

as if it might run to any excess of licence, Antiquity 
has wisely provided that even it should be under some 
sort of discipline. Thus respectability governs those 
who are not respectable, and people who are them- 
selves ignorant of the path of virtue are nevertheless 
obliged to live under some sort of rule. Your place, 
in fact, is like that of a guardian ; as he looks after the 
tender years of his ward, so you bridle the passionate 
pleasures of your theatrical subjects. 

* Therefore, for this Indiction, we appoint you Tribune 
of [the people's] Pleasures. See that order is observed 
at the public spectacles : they are not really popular 
without this. Keep your own high character for purity 
in dealing with these men and women of damaged 
reputation, that men may say, "Even in promoting 
the pleasures of the people he showed his virtuous 

'It is our hope that through this frivolous employ- 
ment you may pass to more serious dignities.' 


Defensor [Observe that the Defensor has power to fix prices, in 
libe?" addition to his original function of protecting the com- 
Civitatis. monalty from oppression.] 

' The number of his clients makes it necessary for the 
representative of a whole city to be especially wary in 
his conduct. 

'At the request of your fellow-citizens we appoint 
you, for this Indiction, Defensor of such and such a 
city. Take care that there be nothing venal in your 
conduct. Fix the prices for the citizens according to 
the goodness or badness of the seasons, and remember 
to pay yourself what you have prescribed to others. A 
good Defensor allows his citizens neither to be op- 
pressed by the laws nor harassed by the dearness of 

Book VII. Formulae 11-13. 


[The Defensor and Curator had evidently almost Curator 
equivalent powers, but with some slight difference o f Clvltatls - 
dignity. They cannot both have existed in the same 
city. It would be interesting to know what decided the 
question whether a city should have a Defensor or a 

This formula differs very little from the preceding, 
except that the new officer is told 'wisely to govern 
the ranks of the Curia.' Stress is again laid on the 
regulation of prices : ' Cause moderate prices to be ad- 
hered to by those whom it concerns. Let not merchan- 
dise be in the sole power of the sellers, but let an 
agreeable equability be observed in all things. This is 
the most enriching kind of popularity, which is derived 
from maintaining moderation in prices *. You shall 
have the same salary (consuetudines) which your pre- 
decessors had in the same place.' 


' If even bolts and bars cannot secure a house from Comitiva 
robbery, much more do the precious things left in the 
streets and open spaces of Rome require protection. I 
refer to that most abundant population of statues, to 
that mighty herd of horses [in stone and metal] which 
adorn our City. It is true that if there were any reve- 
rence in human nature, it, and not the watchman, ought 
to be the sufficient guardian of the beauty of Rome 2 . 
But what shall we say of the marbles, precious both by 
material and workmanship, which many a hand longs, 
if it has opportunity, to pick out of their settings 1 Who 

1 ' Opulentissima siquidem et hinc gratia civium colligitur, si pretia sub 
moderatione serventur.' 

2 'Si esset humanis rebus ulla consideratio Romanam pulchritudinein 
non vigiliae sed sola deberet reverentia custodire.' 

330 Cassiodori Variae. 

when entrusted with such a charge can be negligent ? who 
venal? We entrust to you therefore for this Indiction 
the dignity of the Comitiva Romana, with all its rights 
and just emoluments. Watch for all such evil-doers as 
we have described. Rightly does the public grief 1 
punish those who mar the beauty of the ancients with 
amputation of limbs, inflicting on them that which they 
have made our monuments to suffer. Do you and your 
staff and the soldiers at your disposal watch especially 
by night ; in the day the City guards itself. At night 
the theft looks tempting ; but the rascal who tries it is 
easily caught if the guardian approaches him unper- 
ceived. Nor are the statues absolutely dumb ; the 
ringing sound which they give forth under the blows 
of the thief seems to admonish their drowsy guardian. 
Let us see you then diligent in this business, that 
whereas we now bestow upon you a toilsome dignity, we 
may hereafter confer an honour without care.' 


Comitiva High is your honour, to be the means of taking away 
natis. a ^ slowness from the execution of our orders. Who 
knows not what a quantity of ships you can muster at 
the least hint from us ! Scarcely is the ink dry on the 
evectio [permission to use the public post] prepared by 
some palace dignitary, when already with the utmost 
speed it is by you being carried into effect. Do not 
exact too much service from merchants 2 , nor yet from 
corrupt motives let them off too easily. Be very careful 
in your judicial capacity, and especially when trying the 
causes of the poor, to whom a small error in your judg- 
ment may be far more disastrous than to the rich.' 

1 ' Quia juste tales persequitur publicus dolor.' 

2 ' Negociatorum operas consuetas nee nimias exigas, nee venalitate de- 
relinquas.' Apparently then a certain amount of forced labour could be 
claimed from the owners of merchant- vessels by the Count of Ravenna. 

Book VIL Formulae 14-16. 331 


' It is desirable that the necessary repairs to this forest Architec- 
of walls and population of statues which make up Rome j 
should be in the hands of a learned man who will make 
the new work harmonise with the old. Therefore for 
this Indiction we desire your Greatness to appoint 
A B Architect of the City of Rome. Let him read 
the books of the ancients ; but he will find more in this 
City than in his books. Statues of men, showing the 
muscles swelling with effort, the nerves in tension, the 
whole man looking as if he had grown rather than been 
cast in metal. Statues of horses, full of fire, with the 
curved nostril, with rounded tightly-knit limbs, with 
ears laid back you would think the creature longed 
for the race, though you know that the metal moves not. 
This art of statuary the Etruscans are said to have 
practised first in Italy ; posterity has embraced it, and 
given to the City an artificial population almost equal 
to its natural one. The ancients speak of the wonders 
of the world [here enumerated and described], but this 
one of the City of Rome surpasses them all. It had need 
to be a learned man who is charged with the care of 
upholding all these works ; else, in his despair, he will 
deem himself the man of stone, and the statues about 
him the truly living men.' 


[Celsina, from the place in which it is mentioned in Comitiva 
the 'Itinerary' of Antonine (516), was probably one of JJfrri^ 6 
the Lipari Islands. Curritana must have been near it tarfae et 
but is not further identified.] 

' The presence of a ruler is necessary ; and it is not 
desirable that men should live without discipline, accord- 


Cassiodori Variae. 



ing to their own wills. We therefore appoint you Judge 
of these two islands. For it is right that someone should 
go to the habitations of these men, who are shut out from 
converse with the rest of their kind, and settle their dif- 
ferences by fair reason. 

' Oh ye inhabitants of these islands, ye now know 
whom our Piety has set over you, and we shall expect 
you to obey him.' 


4 It is a glorious labour to serve the City of Koine. It 
cannot be doubted that lime (coctilis calx), which is 
snow-white and lighter than sponge, is useful for the 
mightiest buildings. In proportion as it is itself dis- 
integrated by the application of fire does it lend strength 
to walls ; a dissolvable rock, a stony softness, a sandy 
pebble, which burns the best when it is most abun- 
dantly watered, without which neither stones are fixed 
nor the minute particles of sand hardened. 

' Therefore we set you, well known for your industry, 
over the burning and distribution of lime, that there 
may be plenty of it both for public and private works, 
and that thereby people may be put in good heart for 
building. Do this well, and you shall be promoted to 
greater things.' 


Anno- ' Good arms are of the utmost importance to a com- 
FacJtores. mun ity- By means of them man, the frailest of crea- 
tures, is made stronger than monstrous beasts. Phoroneus 
is said to have first invented them, and brought them to 
Juno to consecrate them by her divinity. 

' For this Indiction we set you over the soldiers and 
workmen in our armouries. Do not presume in our 
absence to pass bad workmanship. We shall find out 

Book VII. Formulae 17-22. 333 

by diligent search all that you do, and in such a matter 
as this consider no mistake venial.' 


Announces to the Praefects the appointment confer- Ad Prae- 
red in the preceding letter, and repeats that to supply p^torio 
inferior arms to soldiers is an act of treason. The work- de Armo- 
men are to receive their just consuetudines [wages]. 


(1) If collected by the Judge himself; 

(2) If collected by his Officiurn. 

These Bina and Terna, as stated in the note to iii. 8, Binorum 
are a mystery. All that can be positively stated about ri m . e ^.) 
them is that they were a kind of land-tax, collected from si per 
the cultivators (possessores), and that they had to be aguntur ; 
brought into the Treasury by the first of March in each (i 
year. Under the first formula the Judex himself, under cium 
the second two Scriniarii superintend the collection, a s untur - 
reporting to the Count of Sacred Largesses. As in the 
previous letter (iii. 8), the Judex is reminded that if 
there is any deficiency he will have to make it good 
himself. Cf. Manso, ' Geschichte des Ostgothischen 
Reiches' 388; and Sartorius, 'Regierung der Ostgothen' 
207 and 347. 


' Your day of promotion is come. Proceed to such and Commo- 
such a Province, in order that you may assist the Judex Jn^et^m 
and his staff in collecting the Bina and Terna before Scrinia- 
the first of March, and may forward them without delay 

334 Cassiodori Variae. 

to the Count of Sacred Largesses. Let there be no extor- 
tion from the cultivator, no dishonest surrender of our 


Vicarius * Great prudence is necessary in your office, since dis- 
' us< cords easily arise between two nationalities. Therefore 
you must use skill to soothe those [the Greek merchants 
and sailors from the Levant] whose characters are 
unstable as the winds, and who, unless you bring their 
minds into a state of calm, will, with their natural 
quickness of temper, fly out into the extremity of in- 


Princeps [The Princeps, as observed on p. 96, seems to have 
tiarum" practically disappeared from the Officium of the Prae- 
fectus Praetorio. Here, however, we find a Provincial 
Princeps whose rank and functions are not a little per- 
plexing. It seems probable that, while still nominally 
only the chief of a staff of subordinates, he may, -owing 
to the character of the superior under whom he served, 
have practically assumed more important functions. 
That superior in this case was a Comes, whose military 
character is indicated by the first letter of this book. 
The Princeps was therefore virtually the Civil Assessor 
of this officer. 

The Comes under Theodoric would generally be a 
Goth ; the Princeps must be a Roman and a Jurisconsult. 
The business of the former was war and administration ; 
that of the latter, judgment, though his decisions were 
apparently pronounced by the mouth of the Comes, his 
superior in rank.] 

' Whosoever serves while bearing the title of Princeps 
has high pre-eminence among his colleagues. To the 

Book VII. Formulae 23-35. 335 

Consul of the Provinces power is given, but to you 
the Judge himself is entrusted. Without you there 
is no access to the Secretarium, nor is the ceremony 
of salutation * [by subordinate officers] performed. You 
hold the vine-rod 2 which menaces the wicked ; you 
have the right, withheld from the Governor himself, of 
punishing the insolence of an orator pleading in his 
Court. The records of the whole suit have to be signed 
by you, and for this your consent is sought after the 
will of the Judge has been explained.' 


' It is our glory to see you [a Goth, one of our own Ad Corn- 
nation] accompanied by a Roman official staff. Acting e s ndan " 
through such Ministers, your power seems to be hallowed 
by the sanction of Antiquity. 

'For to this point, by God's help, have we brought 
our Goths, that they should be both well-trained in 
arms and attuned to justice. It is this which the 

this that makes you 

unique among the nations, namely, that you, who are 
accustomed to war, are seen to live obedient to the 
laws side by side with llie Romans. Therefore from 
out of our Offidum we have decided to send A and 
B to you, that according to ancient custom, while for- 
warding the execution of your commands they may 
bring those commands into conformity with the mind 
of past ages 4 .' 

1 * Pompa osculationis.' Another reading is ' Pompa postulationis.' 

2 'Tu vitem tenes improbis minantem.' The allusion is to the vine- 
bough, which was used in scourging. The alternative reading, vitam, does 
not seem to give so good a sense. 

3 Plural. Apparently, therefore, each Count had more than one Prin- 
ceps, perhaps one for each large city in his Province. 

4 * Kationabili debeant antiquitate moderari.' Perhaps we might trans- 
late, ' with the Common Law.' 

336 Cassiodori Variae. 



Comitiva For the sentences, more than usually devoid of mean- 
runTcivi- ^ n ^' ^ n which Cassiodorus dilates on Free-will, Justice, 
tatum. and the mind of man, it may be well to substitute 
Manso's description of this dignity (p. 379): 

' By the title of a Count of the Second Order the Judges 
in little towns appear chiefly to have been rewarded and 
encouraged. Those named for it, however, can hardly have 
received any great distinction or especial privileges, for 
Cassiodorus not only enumerates no civic advantages thus 
secured to them, but expressly says, " We intend to bestow 
better things than this upon you, if you earn our appro- 
bation in your present office." He does not use this lan- 
guage to those adorned with the Comitiva Primi Ordinis' 


Hono- ' As one must rule and the rest obey, we have for this 
Indiction conferred the Countship of your City on A B, 

et Cu- that he may hear your causes and give effect to our orders.' 

[Apparently this letter and the preceding relate to 

the same appointment. The words 'secundi ordimV 

are not added to the title of the new Count when his 

fellow-citizens are informed of it.] 



Sti m ' Jud g e and Court Officer (Praesul and Miles) are 
vae. terms which involve one another. The officers of the 

1 The title runs thus (in Nivellius' Edition) : ' Formula Comitivae Hono- 
rum Scientiae Ordinis diversarum Civitatum.' I do not know what is 
meant by ' Honorum Scientiae.' Can ' Scientiae ' be a transcriber's blunder 
for 'secundi?' 2 Cf. vi. 24. 

3 This must, I think, be the meaning ; but it is hard to extract it from 
the words ' Formula Principis Militum Comitivae.' 

Book VII. Formulae 26-30. 337 

Court have no right to exist, without the Judge ; he is 
powerless without them to execute his commands. We 
therefore think it well to inform you of our appoint- 
ment of A B as Count over your body 1 . It is no light 
benefit that so long as you attend to your duty 2 you 
are allowed to elect the examiners.' 


' We entrust to you an important office, the care De Cus- 
of the gate of such and such a city. Do not keep p^ dis 
it always shut that were to turn the city into a Civitatis. 
prison ; nor let it always lie open then the walls 
are useless. Use your own judgment, but remember 
that the gate of a city is like the jaws of the human 
body, through which provisions enter to nourish it.' 


' It is right that one who has served his time in Tribuna- 
civil employment should receive his reward, and we 
therefore appoint as your Tribune the man who has a rum. 
right to the office by seniority. You are to obey him, 
since officers of this kind partake of the nature of 
Judges [governors], as they are called to account for 
any excesses committed by you.' 

[Who this Tribune was since the Tribunus Volup- 
tatum is apparently out of the question and how 

1 < Comitem Militiae Vestrae.' 

2 ' Nee istud leve credatis beneficium, ut cum vos scitis obsequium, 
vobis occurrat electio cognitorum.' For Cognitores, see vii. 3. These Cog- 
nitores had virtually the decision of all ' issues of fact,' and consequently 
their nomination was a very important matter. I think the meaning of 
this passage is : 'I, the King, appoint the Comes ( = Judex), and graciously 
inform you of my decision. But you (the Officium) have the privilege and 
it is no small one of electing the Cognitores." 


338 Cassiodori Variae. 

his jurisdiction fitted in to that of other officers, Manso 
(p. 362) deems it impossible to decide, nor can I offer 
any suggestion.] 


Formula ' As there must be the Officium of a Count in Rome, 
P a-tuT~ and as we want to have our chief Princeps 1 near 
Urbis us [in Ravenna], we wish you to take his place 
and wield power as his Vicarius in Rome. 

'If you think that any of the Comitiaci ought to 
be sent to attend our Comitatus [at Ravenna], do 
so at your own discretion, retaining those whom 
you think proper to retain at Rome. Let there be 
an alternation, however, that one set of men be not 
worn out with continuous labour, while the others 
are rusting in idleness.' 


Formula ' Great is the crime of tampering with the coinage ; 
Moneta a crime against the many whose buying and selling 
Commit- i s disturbed by it ; and a crime and a sacrilege against 
us, whose image is impressed on the coins. 

'Let everything be pure and unalloyed which bears 
the impress of our Serenity. Let the flame of gold be 
pale and unmixed, let the colour of silver smile with 
its gracious whiteness, let the ruddy copper retain its 
native glow. 

'Coins are to keep their full weight. They used 
to pass current by weight, not by tale, whence the 
words for profit and expenditure 2 . Pecunia was 
named from cattle (pecus). You must see that our 
money does not return to this low condition. King 

1 'Principem nostrum cardinalem' (observe this use of the word). 

2 ' Compendium et dispendium' (from pendere, to weigh). 

Book VII. Formulae 31-36. 339 

Servius first used stamped money. Take then the 
care of the mint ; hold it for five years, and be very 
careful how you administer it.' 



' Since it is important that when ambassadors Formula 
return to their country they should feel that they ^^n- 
have been well treated in ours, hand the enclosed tium 
douceur (humanitas), and a certain quantity of fodder 
for their horses, to the ambassadors of such and 
such a nation. Nothing pleases those who have 
commenced their return journey better than speeding 
them on their way.' 


' We summon you by these presents to our Comitatus, Formula 
that you may have an extraordinary pleasure. Be 
brisk therefore, and come on such a day to such a 
city. Our Palace longs for the presence of good men, 
and God puts it into our hearts to give them a 
cordial reception.' 


* It is a sign of a good conscience to seek the Formula 
presence of a just ruler ; it is only good deeds that to ri^ a " 
crave the light of the sun. Come then speedily. <i uae 
We consider our own glory augmented when we see concedi- 
noble men flocking to our obedience.' tur< 


ABSENCE. Formula 

'All men require change: even honey cloys after ^ a 1 ^^ a " 
a time. We therefore give you leave to visit such tempus. 

z 2 

340 Cassiodori Variae. 

a Province and remain there so many months, with 
the understanding that when they are over you 
return to the City. If it be tedious to live always 
in the City, how much more to live long in the 
country! But we gladly give you this holiday, not 
that Home should be deserted, but that absence from 
her may commend her to you all the more.' 


Spectabi- 'Wishing to bestow the right honours on the 
tas ' right man among our subjects, we decorate you 
with the splendour of a Spectabilis, that you may 
know that your opinion is duly respected 1 at all 
public meeting-places, when you take your honoured 
seat among the nobles.' 


Clarissi- 'The desire of praise is a good thing, and leads 
bus * to the increase of virtue. Receive the honour of 
the Clarissimatus, as a testimony to the excellence 
of your past life and a pledge of your future 
prosperity. Observe, you are not called Clarus, but 
Clarissimus. Everything that is most excellent may 
be believed of him who is saluted by such a splendid 


Tuitio 'Though it seems superfluous to grant special pro- 
Section to any of our subjects, since all are shielded by 
the laws, yet moved by your cry for help we are 
willing to relieve you and to give you as a strong 

1 'Spectandam,' an allusion to the derivation of spectabilis. 

Book VII. Formulae 37-40. 341 

tower of defence the shelter of our name 1 , into which 
you may retire when wounded by the assaults of 
your enemies. This defence will avail you alike 
against the hot-headed onslaughts [of the Goths] and 
the ruinous chicanery [of the Romans] 2 ; but you 
must beware that you, who have thus had to solicit 
the help of the law, do not yourself set law at defiance 
by refusing to appear in answer to a summons. 

* That our royal protection be not a mere name, we 
appoint A and B to protect you by their fidelity and 
diligence, the former against the Goths, and the latter 
against the Romans 3 . If any one hereafter attempt 
any act of incivilitas against you, you will see your 
desire upon your enemies.' 

[This important letter is commented upon at some 
length by Dahn ('Konige der Germanen' iii. 125-127). 
I am not sure that he is right in stating that Tuitio 
against a Goth would necessarily be given by means 
of a Sajo, though evidently this was often the rank 
of the officer employed.] 


An eternal benefit is that which is bestowed on a De Ma- 
man's offspring ; and hard is the lot of him who, born j^r 
with a stain on his name, finds his troubles prepared as ando et 
soon as he comes forth to the light of day. legitime 

' You pray that the woman whom you have loved but constitu- 
not married may receive the honour of wedlock, and 
that your children by her may attain the name of heirs. 
We grant your request, and ordain that your mistress 

1 ' Tuitio nostri nominis.' 

2 ' Validissimam turrem contra inciviles impetus et conventionalia de- 

3 ' Praesentis beneficii jussione adversus Gothis ilia, adversus Romanos 
ilia, facile te fides et diligentia custodiet' ('custodivit' is surely an error). 

342 Cassiodori Variae. 

shall be your lawful wife, and the children whom you 
love and whom Nature has given you, your successors.' 

[Some of the maxims of this letter can hardly have 
obtained the approval of the author after he 'entered 


Aetatia 'An honourable boast is contained in the suit for 

venia. ,. . . , ,, T . . ,,<-* 

" venia aetatis. In it a young man says, (jrive me 
those rights which my stability of character warrants, 
though my age does not as yet entitle me to them." 

' Thus you refuse the protection which the law throws 
round the years of weakness, and this is as bold a thing 
as any man can do. We grant your request ; and if you 
can prove that you have come to the age at which " venia 
aetatis " should be asked for, we ordain that, with the 
proper formalities which have been of old provided in 
this matter 1 , you shall be admitted to all the rights of an 
adult, and that your dispositions of property, whether in 
city or country, shall be held valid 2 . You must exhibit 
that steadfastness of character which you claim. You 
say that you will not be caught by the snares of designing 
men ; and you must remember that now to deny the ful- 
filment of your promise will become a much more serious 
matter than heretofore.' 



Ut ncTre ' Heavy charges are sometimes brought against the 
debeat Sajones whom with the best intentions we have granted 
Sa'onem ^ or ^ ne P r tection of our wealthy subjects. We are told 
meretur. that the valour of the Sajo is employed not merely for 

1 ' Ut in foro competent! ea quae in his causis reverenda legum dictat 
Antiquitas solenniter actitentur.' 

2 ' Ita ut in alienandis rusticis vel urbanis praediis constitutionum ser- 
vitus auctoritas.' 

Book VII. Formulae 41-44. 343 

the protection of him to whom he is assigned, but for 
illegal violence and rapine against that person's enemies. 
Thus our remedy becomes itself a disease. To guard 
against this perversion of our beneficent designs we 
ordain that anyone asking for the guardianship of a 
brave Sajo against violence with which he feels himself 
unable to cope, shall give a penal bond to our Ofncium, 
with this condition, that if the Sajo 1 who is assigned 
to him shall exceed our orders by any improper violence, 
he himself shall pay by way of fine so many pounds of 
gold, and shall make satisfaction for the damage sus- 
tained by his adversary as well as for the expenses of 
his journey [to obtain redress]. For our wish is to 
repress uncivil dispositions, not to injure the innocent. 
As for the Sajo who shall have wilfully transgressed the 
limit of our commands, he shall lose his donative, and 
which is the heaviest of all punishments our favour 
also. Nor will we entrust any further duty to him who 
has been the violator rather than the executor of our will.' 


f At the suggestion of the Tribune of the Cartarii Probato- 
to whom the whole office pays fitting reverence we 
bestow upon you the title of a Cartarius. Flee avarice 
and avoid all unjust gains.' 

[This letter gives no information as to the duties of a 
Cartarius, or, as he is called in the Codes, Cartularius.] 


' He who seeks to become owner of public property " 
can only justify his claim by making the squalid beau- bus. 

1 'Sajus ' in the original, and so in the next place where it occurs. 

2 Formula de Competitoribus is the somewhat obscure title of this docu- 
ment, which might perhaps be compared to our Commons' Enclosure Acts. 

344 Cassiodori Variae. 

tiful, and by adorning the waste. Therefore, as you 
desire it, we confer upon you as your full property such 
and such a place, reserving all mineral rights brass, 
lead, marbles should any such be found therein ; but 
we do this on the understanding that you will restore to 
beauty that which has become shabby by age and neglect. 
It is the part of a good citizen to adorn the face of his 
. city, and you may securely transmit to your posterity 
that which your own labour has accomplished 1 .' 

Formula 'You complain that the land-tax (tributum) levied 

qua cen- -LIT / \ ^ -n 

sus rele- upon your holding (possessio) in such a Province is so 
vetur ei heavy that all your means are swallowed up in the 

qui unam 

casam swamp of indebtedness, and that more is claimed by the 

^ ax ~ co ^ ec ^ ors than can be obtained from the soil by the 
vatam. husbandman. You might, by surrendering the property 
altogether, escape from this miserable necessity which is 
making you a slave rather than a landowner ; but since 
the Imperial laws (sacratissimae leges) give us the power 
to relieve a man of moderate fortune in such circum- 
stances, our Greatness, which always hath the cause of 
justice at heart, decrees by these presents that if the case 
be as you say, the liability for the payment of so many 
solid! on behalf of the aforesaid property shall be can- 
celled in the public archives, and that this shall be done 
so thoroughly that there shall be no trace of it left in 
any copy of the taxing-rolls by which the charge may 
be revived at a future day V 

1 ' Securus etiam ad posteros transmissurus, quod proprio fuerit labore 

2 ' Decernimus ut, si ita est, tot solidos tributario supradictae possessio- 
nia ... ita faciatis de vasariis publicis diligenter abradi ut hujus rei 
duplarum vestigium non debeat inveniri.' Cf. what is said by Evagrius 
(iii. 39) of the proceedings of Anastasius at the time of the abolition of the 

Book VII. Formulae 45-47. 345 



* After the laws of the two tables, Moses adds the laws Formula 
wherein God forbids marriages between near kindred, to g^*" 
guard against incest and provide for a wise admixture of legitima 
divers strains of blood 1 . 

' These commands have been extended to remoter 
degrees of relationship by the wise men of old, who have 
however reserved to the Prince the power of granting 
dispensations from the rule in the cases (not likely to be 
frequent) where first cousins (by the mother's side) seek 
to intermarry. 

' Acting on this wise principle we permit you to marry 
C D, if she is of no nearer kinship to you than first 
cousin. By God's favour may you have legitimate heirs 
from this marriage, which, our consent having been 
obtained, is not blameable but praiseworthy.' 


' It is the hard lot of human nature often to be injured Formula 
by the very things which were intended as remedies. f e ^ t ^ e " 
The prohibition against the sale of the property of a ut sub 
Curialis was intended for his protection, and to enable curialis 

him fearlessly to discharge his share of the public bur- 

, , , , vendat. 

dens. In some cases, however, where he has contracted 
large debts, this prohibition simply prevents him from 
saving anything out of the gulf of indebtedness. You 
have the power, after making due enquiry into the 
circumstances; to authorise the sale of such a property. . 
You have the power; but as the proceeding is an unusual 
one, to guard you against any odium to which it may 
expose you, we fortify your Eminence by this our present 

1 ' Ne dilationem providam in genus extraneum non haberent.' 

346 Cassiodori Variae. 

command. Let the Curialis who petitions for this relief 
satisfy you as to the cause of his losses, that it may be 
shown that they are really the result of circumstances 
beyond his own control, not due to his own bad 

'Wisely has Antiquity laid upon you the responsibility 
of deciding cases of this kind, you whose advantage lies 
in the maintenance of the Curia. For by whom could 
its burdens be borne, if the nerves of the communities 
should everywhere be seen to be severed l ? ' 

1 ' Quapropter provide vobis pennisit antiquitas de ilia causa decernere, 
cui est utile Curiam custodire. A quibus enim munia petuerunt sustineri, 
si civitatum nervi passim videantur abscidi.' 



(A.D. 526). 

[SOME MSS. read Justiniano, but there can be no doubt The 
that Justino is the right reading. Athalaric's accession 

took place August 30, 526 ; the death of Justin, August i, laric an - 
527. Justinian was associated with his uncle in the to the 6 
Empire, April i, 527.] 

'Most earnestly do I seek your friendship, oh most 
clement of Princes, who are made even more illustrious 
by the wide extension of your favours than by the 
purple robe and the kingly throne. On this friendship 
I have an hereditary claim. My father was adorned by 
you with the palm-enwoven robe of the Consul [Eutha- 
ric, Consul 519] and adopted as a son in arms, a name 
which I, as one of a younger generation, could more 
fittingly receive 1 . My grandfather also received curule 
honours from you 2 in your city. Love and friendship 

1 The text is evidently corrupt here : ' Genitor meus desiderio quoque 
concordiae factus est per arma filius, quia unis nobis pene videbatur 
aequaevus.' The suggested reading, 'quainvis vobis,' does not entirely 
remove the difficulty. 

2 That is, of course, not from Justin himself but from his predecessors. 

348 Cassiodori Variae. 

should pass from parents to their offspring, while hatred 
should be buried in the tomb ; and therefore with con- 
fidence, as one who by reason of my tender years cannot 
be an object of suspicion to you, and as one whose ances- 
tors you have already known and cherished, I claim from 
you your friendship on the same compacts and condi- 
tions on which your renowned predecessors granted it to 
my lord and grandfather of Divine memory 1 . It will be 
to me something better than dominion to have the friend- 
ship of so excellent and so mighty a ruler. My ambassa- 
dors (A and B) will open the purport of their commis- 
sion more fully to your Serenity.' 


To the ' Great must be the joy of all orders of the State at 
ena e. j^gj^g o f the accession of a new ruler, above all of a 
peaceful succession, without war, without sedition, with- 
out loss of any kind to the Republic. 

' Such has been our succession to our grandfather. On 
account of the glory of the Amal race, which yields to 
none 2 , the hope of our youth has been preferred to the 
merits of all others. The chiefs, glorious in council and 
in war, have nocked to recognise us as King so gladly, 
so unmurmuringly, that it seems like a Divine inspira- 
tion, and the kingdom has been changed as one changes 
a garment. 

' The institution of royalty is consolidated when power 
thus passes from one generation to another, and when a 
good prince lives again, not in statues of brass but in 
the lineaments and the character of his descendants. 

* The general consent of Goths and Romans [at 

1 ' Ut amicitiam nobis illis pactis, illis conditionibus concedatis, quas cum 
divae memoriae domino avo nostro inclytos decessores vestros constat ha- 

2 { Quoniam quaevis claritas generis Amalis cedit.' 

Book VIII. Letters 2-3. 349 

Kavenna] has crowned us King, and they have confirmed 
their allegiance by an oath. You, though separated 
from us by space, are, we know, as near to us in heart 
as they ; and we call upon you therefore to follow their 
example. We all know that the most excellent fathers 
of the Senate love their King more fervently than other 
ranks of the State, in proportion to the greater benefits 
which they have received at his hand. 

; And since one should never enter your Curia empty- 
handed, we have sent our Count, the Illustrious Sigismer, 
with certain persons to administer the oath to you. If 
you have any requests to make to us which shall be for 
the common benefit of the Republic, make them through 
him, and they are granted beforehand.' 

(A.D. 526). 

* If a stranger to the royal line were succeeding to the To the 
throne, you might doubt whether the friendship between 
him and you would endure, and might look for a reversal 
of the policy of his predecessors. But now the person of 
the King only, not his policy, is changed. We are 
determined to follow the revered maxims of our prede- 
cessor, and to load with even more abundant benefits 
those whom he most kindly defended. 

'Everything was so ordered by our glorious grand- 
father that on his death the glad consent of Goths called 
us to our kingdom; and that no doubt might remain 
upon the matter they pledged themselves by an oath 
most cordially taken, to accept us as their ruler. We 
invite you to follow their example, and like Trajan, we, 
the Sovereign, in whose name all oaths are made, will 
also swear to you. The bearers of this letter will receive 
your sworn promise, and will give you ours, " by the 
Lord's help to observe justice and fair clemency, the 
nourisher of the nations ; that Goths and Romans shall 


350 Cassiodori Variae. 

meet with impartial treatment at our hands ; and that 
there shall be no other division between the two nations, 
except that they undergo the labours of war for the 
common benefit, while you are increased in numbers by 
your peaceable inhabitancy of the City of Rome 1 ." 
Raise then your spirits, and hope for even better things 
and more tranquillity; under God's blessing, from our 
reign than from that of our predecessor.' 


To the ' He who hears of a change in the ruler is apt to fear 
inltaiy ^at ^ mav ^ e a change for the worse ; and a new King 
and Dal- who makes no kind promises at his accession is supposed 
to be harbouring designs of severity. We therefore in- 
form you that we have received the oaths of Goths and 
Romans and are ready to receive yours, which we doubt 
not you will willingly offer.' [The rest as in the preced- 
ing letters.] 

ITALY (A.D. 526). 

To the 'Gladly would we have announced to you the pro- 
longed life of our lord and grandfather ; but inasmuch as 
he has been withdrawn by hard fate from us who loved 
him, he has substituted us, by Divine command, as heirs 
of his kingdom, that through us his successors in blood,! 
he might make the benefits which he has conferred o& 
you perpetual. And in truth we hope not only to defend 
but to increase the blessings wrought by himj All the 

1 'Justitiam nos et aequabilem clementiam, quae populos nutrit, ju- 
vante domino, custodire et Gothis Romanisque apud nos Jus esse com- 
mune, nee aliud inter vos esse divisum, nisi quod illi labores bellicos pro 
communi utilitate subeunt, vos autem civitatis Komanae habitatio quieta 
multiplicat.' I do not consider that the words in Italics, taken with the 
context, are irreconcilable with Dahn's view that the Goths were still, to 
a certain extent, under Gothic law. 

Book VIII. Letters 4-7. 351 

Goths in the Royal City [Ravenna] have taken the oaths 
to us. Do you do the same by this Count whom we send 
to you. 

'Receive then a name which ever brought prosperity 
to your race, the royal offshoot of the Amajs, the sprout 
of the Balthae 1 , a^c^ildLoj^cjaJ^n^^giuple. 1 Ye are they 
by whom, with God's help, our ancestors were borne to 
such a height of honour, and obtaineian ever higher 
place amid the serried ranks of kings V I 


' You will be grieved to hear of the death of our lord To the 
and grandfather of glorious memory, but will be com- 
forted in learning that he is succeeded by his descendant. 
Thus, by God's command, did he arrange matters, associ- 
ating us as lords in the throne of his royalty, (jn order 
that he might leave his kingdom at peace, and that no 
revolution might trouble it after his death.' j 

[Invitation to take the oath, as in previous letters.] 

IN GAUL (A.D. 526). 

' Our grandfather of glorious memory is dead, but we TO the 
have succeeded him, and will faithfully repay, both on ^ects 
his account and our own, the loyalty of our subjects. of Atha- 

' So unanimous was the acclamation of our [Italian] anc< 
subjects when we succeeded to the throne, that the thing 
seemed to be of God rather than of man. 

1 ' Amalorum regalem prosapiem, Baltheum germen.' I know not how 
Athalaric had any blood of the Balths in his veins. The other reading, 
< blatteum,' gives the same idea as the following clause, ' infantiam purpu- 

3 ' Inter tarn prolixum .ordinem Regum susceperunt semper augmenta.' 
Perhaps we should translate 'by such a long line of (Amal) kings ob- 
tained advancement for their nation ; ' but the meaning is not very clear. 

352 Cassiodori Variae. 

' We now invite you to follow their example, that the 
Goths may give their oath to the Romans, and the 
Romans may confirm it by a Sacramentum to the Goths, 
that they are unanimously devoted to our King.' 

' Thus will your loyalty be made manifest, and concord 
and justice flourish among you.' 

[There is an appearance of mutuality about this oath of 
allegiance as between Goths and Romans, not merely by 
both to Athalaric, which we have not had in the previous 

AND BISHOP x (A.D. 526). 

To ' Saluting you with all the veneration due to your 

Victor!- character and office, we inform you with grief of the 

nus - death of our lord and grandfather. But your sadness 

will be moderated when you hear that his kingdom is 

continued in us. Favour us with your prayers, that the 

King of Heaven may confirm to us the kingdom, subdue 

foreign nations before us, forgive us our sins, and 

propitiously preserve all that He was pleased to bestow 

on our ancestors. Let your Holiness exhort all the Pro- 

vincials to concord/ 


Praises ' As our grandfather used to refresh his mind and 
1 ' strengthen his judgment by intercourse with you, so, 

raised to $, fortiori, may we in our tender years do the same. 

triciate. We therefore make you, by this present letter, Patrician, 
that the counsels which you give us may not seem to 
proceed from any unknown and obscure source. 

' Greece adorned our hero [Tulum] with the chlamys 
and the painted silken buskin ; and the Eastern peoples 

1 Baronius says (vii. 121): ' Cujusnam Ecclesiae Antistes fuerit Victorinus 
ignoratur.' From the tone of the letter one may conjecture that Victorinus 
was a Bishop in Gaul. 

Book VIII. Letters 8-9. 353 

yearned to see him, because for some reason civic virtues 
are most prized in him who is believed to be of warlike 
disposition l . Contented with this repayment of honour 
he laboured with unwearied devotion for foreign coun- 
tries (?), and with his relations (or parents) he deigned to 
offer his obedience to the Sovereign, who was begotten of 
the stock of so many Kings 2 . 

[After some very obscure sentences, in which the writer 
appears to be celebrating the praises of Theodoric, he 
turns to Tulum, of whom he has hitherto spoken in the 
third person, and addresses him as you.] 

' His toil so formed your character that we have the 
less need to labour. With you he discussed the sure 
blessings of peace, the doubtful gains of war ; and rare 
boon from a wise King to you, in his anxiety, he con- 
fidently opened all the secrets of his breast. You, how- 
ever, responded fully to his trust. You never put him 
off with doubtful answers. Ever patient and truthful, 
you won the entire confidence of your King, and dared 
even, hardest of all tasks, to argue against him for his 
own good. 

'Thus did your noble deeds justify your alliance 
with the Amal race [apparently he has received an 
Amal princess in marriage], and thus did you become 
worthy to be joined in common fame with Gensemund, 
a man whose praises the whole world should sing, 

1 Probably Tulum had gone on some embassy to Constantinople. 

2 ' Hac igitur honoris remuneratione contentus, pro exteris partibus inde- 
fessa devotione laboravit : et praestare cum suis parentibus principi digna- 
batur obsequium, qui tantorum regum fuerat stirpe procreatus.' This 
sentence is full of difficulties. What can he mean by the labour 'pro 

: exteris partibus ?' Who is the 'Princeps' whom Tulum deigns to serve: 
, the Eastern Emperor or Theodoric ? Above all, who is ' tantorum regum 
1 stirpe procreatus ?' I think the turn of the sentence requires that it should 

be Tulum; but Dahn has evidently not so understood it, for in his 
i Konige der Germanen (iii. 29, 30) he makes Tulum a conspicuous example 
i of a man not of noble birth raised to high dignity, and says that the two 
, long letters about him in the Variae contain no allusion to illustrious 


A a 

354 Cassiodori Variae. 

a man only made son by adoption in arms to the King, 
yet who exhibited such fidelity to the Amals that he 
transferred it even to their heirs, although he was him- 
self sought for to be crowned 1 . Therefore will his fame 
live for ever, so long as the Gothic name endures. 

' We look for even nobler things from you, because you 
are allied to us by race.' 

[A singularly obscure, vapid, and ill-written letter. 
The allusion to Gensemund seems introduced on purpose 
to bewilder the reader.] 


[On the elevation of Tulum to the Patriciate.] 

The same We are conferring new lustre on your body by the 
promotion of Tulum. A man sprung from the noblest 
stock 2 he early undertook the duties of attendance in the 
King's bedchamber 3 , a difficult post, where the knowledge 
that you share the secret counsels of royalty itself exposes 
you to enmity. 

' In the dawn of manhood he went forth with our army 
to the war of Sirmium [A.D. 504], showed what one of 
our young nobles bred in peace could do in war, 
triumphed over the Huns^and gave to slaughter the 
Bulgarians, terrible to the whole world. Such warriors 
do even our nurseries send forth : thus does the prepa- 

1 'Exstat gentis Gothicae hujus probitatis exemplum: Gensemundus 
ille toto orbe cantabilis, solum armis filius factus, tanta se Amalis devo- 
tione conjunxit ut haeredibus eorum ouriosum exhibuerit famulatum, 
quamvis ipse peteretur ad regnum.' Dahn (ii. 61 and iii. 309) and Kopke 
(p. 142) refer this mysterious affair of Gensemund's renunciation to the 
interval after the death of Thorismund (A.D. 416). But this is mere con- 
jecture. See Italy and her Invaders iii. 8-10. 

2 'Primum, quod inter nationes eximium est, Gothorum nobilissima 
stirpe gloriatur.' 

3 ' Statim rudes annos ad sacri cubiculi secreta portavit.' 

4 We do not hear from the other authorities of Huns being engaged in 
this war. In 505 Mundo the Hun was in alliance with Theodoric against 
the Empire. 


Book VIII. Letter 10. 355 

ration of a courageous heart supersede the necessity for 
martial training l . 

' Keturned to the Court he became the most intimate 
counsellor of the King, who arranged with him all his 
plans for campaign, and so admitted him to his most 
secret thoughts that Tulum could always anticipate how 
Theodoric would act in every fresh conjuncture of events ; 
and it may be said " by offering him counsel he ruled 
the King 2 ." 

'He then distinguished himself in the Gaulish cam- 
paign [A.D. 508], where he was already enrolled among 
the generals, directing the campaign by his prudence, and 
bravely sharing its dangers. In the fierce fight which was 
waged at Aries for the possession of the covered bridge 
across the Khone 3 , the bravery of our candidatus was 
everywhere conspicuous, and he received many honour- 
able wounds, those best and most eloquent champions of 
a soldier's courage. 

' But a general ought not to be always fighting. I have 
pleasure in relating his next success, which was brilliant 
yet achieved without bloodshed. When the Frank and 
Burgundian again fell out, he was sent to Gaul [A.D. 523] 
to defend our frontier from hostile incursion. He then 
obtained for the Roman Republic, without any trouble, a 
whole Province while others were fighting. It was a 
triumph without a battle, a palm-branch without toil, 
a victory without slaughter. 

* So great were his services in this campaign that 
Theodoric considered that he ought to be rewarded by 
the possession of large lands in the district which he had 
added to our dominions. 

'A storm overtook him on his return to Italy: the 

1 ' Tales mittunt nostra cunabula bellatores : sic paratae sunt manus, 
ubi exercetur animus.' 

2 ' Et ministrando consilium regebat ipse Kectorem.' 

3 * Arelate est civitas supra undas Rhodani constituta, quae in Orientis 
prospectum tabulatum pontem per nuncupati fluminis dorsa transmittit.' 

A a 2 

356 Cassiodori Variae. 

remembrance of the vanished danger of that storm is 
sweet to us now 1 . In the wide, foaming sea his ship 
was swallowed up. He had to save himself by rowing ; 
the sailors perished ; he alone with the dear pledge of his 
love [one child ?] escaped. Theodoric rushed to the shore, 
and would have dashed into the waves to save his friend, 
but had the delight of receiving him unharmed, saved 
manifestly by Divine protection for his present honours. 
' Favour then, Conscript Fathers, the ambition of our 
candidatus, and open for the man of our choice the Hall 
of Liberty 2 . The race of Komulus deserves to have such 
martial colleagues as Tulum.' 


[Note that Cassiodorus has to provide an elegant 
oration not only for his master, but for this Gothic 
fellow-minister of State. See Dahn's remarks on the 
writer of this letter, ' Konige der Germanen ' iii. 273.] 
Tulum's *I pray you to receive favourably the order of the 
to the* 8 King which makes me a member of your body. 
Senate. *I have ever favoured the dignity of the Senate, as 
if with a prescience that I should one day hold it. 
When I shared the counsels of Theodoric, that chief 
of Kings, of glorious memory, I often by my inter- 
cessions obtained for members of your body Consul- 
ships, Patriciates, Praefectures ; and now, behold, I am 
similarly honoured myself. Reflect, I pray, that by 
my accepting it, the genius of the Patriciate is ex- 
alted, since none of my fellow-countrymen will hold 
cheaply that rank in you which he sees honoured in 

1 'Discrimina dum feliciter cedunt, suavissimae memoriae sensum re- 
linquunt.' Compare Claudian (De Bello Getico 207-8) : 

' An potius meminisse juvat semperque vicissim 
Gaudia praemissi cumulant inopina dolores.' 

2 'Favete nunc auspiciis candidati, et viris nostris libertatis atria 

Book VIII. Letters 11-12. 357 

me. Live in security, by the blessing of God; enjoy 
your prosperity with your children ; and strive, now as 
always, to show forth the true Roman type of character. 
I shall defend those with whom I am now associated.' 

[Bestowing on him the rank of Comes Domesticorum.] 

[I have altered the order of subjects in this letter, 
to make it correspond with that of time. There can- 
not be much doubt that Arator's pomposa legatio from 
Dalmatia was his first introduction to the Court of 
Theodoric, and preceded his employment as Advocatus.] 

* By raising Tulum to the Patriciate we have provided Arator 
for the military strength of the State. Now must we c^ t O f 
see to it that she is equally adorned by the glory of the Do- 
letters, and for this purpose we raise you, still in the m 
prime of life, to the rank of Comes Domesticorum. By 
your example it was seen that eloquence could be 
acquired elsewhere than at Rome, since in your own 
Province [probably Dalmatia] your father, who was 
an extremely learned man, taught you to excel in 
this art: a happy lot for you, who obtained from your 
father's love that accomplishment which most youths 
have to acquire with terror from a master. 

' That I may say something here of a very recherch6 
character 1 , I may mention that, according to some, 
letters were first invented by Mercury, who watched 
the flight of cranes by the Strymon, and turned the 
shapes assumed by their flying squadron into forms 
expressive of the various sounds of the human voice. 

'You were sent upon a stately embassy 2 by the Pro- 
vincials of Dalmatia to our grandfather; and there, 
not in commonplace words but with a torrent of elo- 

1 ' Ut aliquid studiose exquisitum dicere videamur.' 

2 ' Juvat repetere pomposam legationem.' 

358 Cassiodori Variae. 

quence, you so set forth their needs and the measures 
which would be for the advantage of the public, that 
Theodoric, a man of cautious temperament, listened to 
your flow of words without weariness, and all men 
desired still to listen, when you ceased speaking. 

' [Since then] you have filled the office of Advocate 
in our Court. You might have been a trier of causes 
(Cognitor): you have preferred to be a pleader, though 
to all your advocacy you have brought so fair and 
judicial a mind that your eloquence and your zeal for 
your client have never exceeded the bounds of truth.' 

[Conferring on him the Quaestorship.] 

[This Ambrosius, son of Faustinus, is apparently the 
same to whom Ennodius addressed his ' Paraenesis Didas- 
calica/ containing some important notices of Festus, 
Symmachus, Boethius, Cethegus, and their contempora- 
ries. (In Migne's ' Patrologia ' Ixiii. 250.)] 

Ambro- ' A steady gradation of honours secures good servants 
smsap- or ^ e g^ate. YOU have already served with credit 


Quaestor, the office of Count of the Private Largesses. And you 
have also filled satisfactorily the place of a high official 
who was dismissed in disgrace 1 . We now therefore 
promote you to the office of Quaestor, and expect you 
to be the Pliny to the new Trajan. Let your eloquent 
tongue adorn all that we have to say, and be fearless 
in suggesting to us all that is for the welfare of the State. 
A good Sovereign always allows his ministers to speak 
to him on behalf of justice, while it is the sure mark 
of a tyrant to refuse to listen to the voice of the ancient 
maxims of law. Remember that celebrated saying of 

1 ' Gratiam quoque loci alterius invenisti. Dictationibus enim probaris 
adhibitus, cum sit offensionibus alter expulsus : et ita suspensum honorem 
tuum sustinebat ingenium, ut Palatio non sineres decease Judicem, cujus 
ad tempus abrogatam cognovimus dignitatem.' I do not think we can say 
from this what the office temporarily filled by Arator was. 

Book VIII. Letters 13-14. 359 

Trajan to an orator: "Plead, if I am a good ruler, for 
the Kepublic and me ; if I am a bad one, for the Re- 
public against me 1 ." But remember, that if we are 
thus severe upon ourselves we are equally strict with 
regard to you, and expect you to follow the example of 
your noble ancestors, and to abstain from everything 
like an infraction of the laws. We confer upon you 
the insignia of the Quaestorship for this fifth Indiction* 
[Sept. i, 526 Sept. i, 527]. 


[On the elevation of Ambrosius to the Quaestorship]. 

1 As a kind of door to our royal favour do we appoint The same 
Ambrosius to be our Quaestor. You know his merits Bub J ect - 
of old: but, to speak only of recent matters 2 , we may 
remind you that when your hearts were wrung with 
grief for the death of our glorious grandfather, it was 
by his mouth that we assured you of our determination 
to continue to you the blessings of good government. 

'The presence of Ambrosius is full of dignity, and 
has a soothing influence which the words of his speech 
do but confirm 3 . It is unfortunate for an orator to 
have eloquence for his only gift, and to have to obli- 
terate by his oration the unfavourable effect produced on 
the multitude by his appearance. 

' We consider it not necessary to praise his eloquence. 
Of course a Quaestor is eloquent. While some have 
the government of a Province committed to them, others 

1 ' Sume dicationem, si bonus fuero, pro Eepublica et me : si malus, pro 
Republica in me.' 

2 ' Quando et moderna quae loquimur.' (Notice again moderna.) 

3 So the cou temporary poet Maximian, speaking of his own past successes 
as an orator, and a good-looking one, says : 

'Nee minor his aderat sublimis gratia formae 
Quae vel si decent cetera, muta placet.' 

Elegiac i. 17-18. 

360 Cassiodori Variae. 

the care of the Treasury, he receives the ensigns of his 
dignity in order that by him his Sovereign's fame may 
be spread abroad through the whole world.' 


[On the election of Pope Felix III, 536.] 
[As this letter has an important bearing on the 
royal rights in connection with Papal elections, it is 
translated in full.] 

Election 'We profess that we hear with great satisfaction 
Feiix Pe that vou n ^ve responded to the judgment of our 
III (or glorious lord and grandfather in your election of a 
Bishop. It was right in sooth to obey the will of a 
good Sovereign, who, handling the matter with wise 
deliberation, although it had reference to a form of 
faith alien from his own 1 , thought fit to select such a 
Pontiff as could rightfully be displeasing to none. You 
may thus recognise that his one chief desire was that 
Religion might flourish by good priests being supplied 
to all the churches. 

'You have received then a man both admirably 
endowed with Divine grace and approved by royal 
scrutiny. Let no one any longer be involved in the 
old contention. There is no disgrace in being con- 
quered when the King's power has helped the winning 
side. That man makes him [the successful candidate] 
his own, who manifests to him pure affection. For 
what cause for regret can there be, when you find in 
this man, those very qualities which you looked for in 
the other when you embraced his party ? 

'These are family quarrels 2 , a battle without cold 

1 'Qui sapient! deliberatione pertractans quamvis in aliena religione.' 

2 The words of Cassiodorus are, ' crinea sunt ista certamina.' No one 
seems able to suggest a meaning for crinea. The editors propose to read 
cimca, which however is very flat, and not exactly in Cassiodorus' manner. 
I suspect some recondite classical allusion, which has been missed by the 
transcribers, has led to the corruption of the text. 

Book VIII. Letters 15-16. 361 

steel, a contest without hatred: by shouts, not wounds, 
a matter like this is decided. 

* For even though the person who is desired be taken 
from you, yet naught is lost by the faithful, since the 
longed-for priesthood is possessed by them. [They 
have a Pope, if not just the Pope whom they wished 
for.] Wherefore on the return of your Legate, the 
Illustrious Publianus, we have thought it right to 
send to your assembly these letters of salutation. For 
we taste one of our highest pleasures when we ex- 
change words with our nobles ; and we doubt not that 
this is very sweet to you also, when you reflect that 
what you did by our grandsire's order is personally 
agreeable to ourselves.' 

[For remarks on this important letter see Dahn's 
* Konige der Germanen ' iii. 239. He makes it a simple 
appointment of the Pope by the bare will of Theodoric, 
afterwards confirmed by Athalaric. To me it seems 
more probable that there had been a contest, threaten- 
ing the election of an antipope (as in 498 in the case 
of Symmachus and Laurentius), and that the matter 
had been, as on that occasion, referred to the arbitration 
of Theodoric.] 


* It is generally necessary to weigh carefully the Opili 
merits of a new aspirant to the honours of the Court 
(aulicas dignitates) ; but in your case the merits ofSacrarum 
your family render this examination needless. Both ti 
your father and brother held the same office l which 

we are now entrusting to you, and one may say that 
this dignity has taken up its abode in your house. 

' You learned the duties of a subordinate in the office 
under your brother; and often did he, leaning upon 

1 ' Pater his fascibus praefuit sed et frater eadem resplenduit claritate.' 

362 Cassiodori Variae. 

you as on a staff, take a little needful repose, knowing 
that all things would be attended to by you. The 
crowds of suppliants who resorted to him with their 
grievances, shared the confidence which the people 
had in you, and saw that you were already assuming 
the character of a good judge. 

'Most useful also were your services to the throne 
at the commencement of the new reign, when men's 
minds were in trouble as to what should happen next. 
You bore the news of our accession to the Ligurians, 
and so strengthened them by your wise address that the 
error into which they had been betrayed by the sun-setting 
was turned into joy at the rising of our empire 1 .' 

'We therefore confer upon you the dignity of Count 
of the Sacred Largesses from this sixth Indiction 
(Sept. I, 527). Enjoy all the privileges and emoluments 
which belonged to your predecessors. God forbid that 
those whose own actions are right should be shaken by 
any machinations of calumny. There was a time when 
even Judges were harassed by informers (delatores) ; but 
that time is over. Lay aside then all fear, you who have 
no errors to reproach yourself with, and freely enjoy the 
advantages of your dignity. Imitate your brother : even 
though a little way behind him you will still be before 
most holders of the office. He was a man of the highest 
authority and of proved constancy, and the highest tes- 
timony to his merits was afforded by the fact that even 
under a successor who was hostile to him the whole official 
staff of the palace was loud in his praises 2 .' 

[This letter is of great importance, as containing in- 
directly the expression of Cassiodorus' opinion on the 

1 ' Nam cum . . . auspicia nostra Liguribus felix portitor nuntiasti, et 
sapientiae tuae allocutione firmasti, in errorem quern de occasu conceperant, 
ortum nostri imperil in gaudia commutabant.' Does this obscure passage 
indicate some revolutionary movements in Liguria after the death of 
Theodoric, perhaps fomented by the Prankish neighbours of Italy ? 

2 'Quando sub ingrato successore palatinum officium praeconia ejus 
tacere non potuit.' 

Book VIII. Letters 16-17. 363 

trial of Boethius, and the tendency of that opinion seems 
to be against him and in favour of his accusers. Com-, 
paring this letter with v. 40, addressed to Cyprian, Comes 
Sacrarum Largitionum and son of Opilio, we may with 
something like certainty construct this genealogical table : 

C. S. L. (? son of the Consul of 453). 


C. S. L. 524. C. S. L. 527. 

Now Cyprian, whose ready wit and ingenious eloquence 
had rendered him a favourite with Theodoric, is repre- 
sented to us in the ' Philosophiae Consolatio ' of Boethius 
(L iv.) and in the 'Anonymus Valesii' (85) as the in- 
former by whom Albinus and Boethius were accused 
of high treason. Opilio too (no doubt the same as 
the receiver of this letter) is described by Boethius 
(loc. cit.) as a man who on account of his numberless 
frauds had been ordered by the King to go into banish- 
ment, had taken refuge at the altar, and had been 
sternly bidden to leave Eavenna before a given day, 
and then had purchased pardon by coming forward as 
a delator against Boethius. 

Against all this passionate invective it is fair to set 
this remarkable letter of Cassiodorus, written it is true 
in the young King's name and presenting the Court view 
of these transactions, but still written after the death 
of Theodoric, and perhaps repubh'shed by Cassiodorus 
in the * Variarum ' after the downfall of the Gothic Mo- 
narchy. In any case the allusions to delatores in this 
letter, considering the history of Opilio and his brother, 
are extraordinary.] 



This letter, though it does not mention the name of The same 
Opilio, is evidently written on his promotion to the 8U Ject * 

364 Cassiodori Variae. 

office of Comes Sacrarum Largitionum. It enumerates his 
good qualities, and declares that it is marvellous and 
almost fortunate for Athalaric that so suitable a can- 
didate should not have been promoted in the reign of 
his grandfather. The father of Opilio was a man of 
noble character and robust body, who distinguished 
himself by his abstinence from the vices of the times 
and his preference for dignified repose in the stormy 
period of Oddvacar *. 

'He was reputed an excellent man in those times, 
when the Sovereign was not a man of honour 2 . But 
why go back to his parentage, when his brother has 
set so noble an example. The friendship, the rivalry 
in virtue of these two brothers, is worthy of the good 
old times. Both are true to their friends ; both are devoid 
of avarice. Both have kept their loyalty to their King 
unspotted, and no marvel, since they have first shown 
themselves true to their friends and colleagues. 

'Distinguished by these virtues, our candidate has been 
fittingly allied by marriage with the noble family of 
Basilius 3 . 

' He has managed his private affairs so as to avoid the 
two extremes of parsimony and extravagance. He has 
become popular with the Goths by his manner of life, and 
with the Romans by his righteous judgments 4 ; and has 

1 ' Adjectis saeculi vitiis, ditatus claris honoribus.' The text is evidently 
corrupt. 'Abjectis' seems. to be required; but some MSS. instead of 
'vitiis' read ' Odovacris.' In any case Odovacar's government is evidently 
alluded to. Cf. the words used of the same man in the letter announcing 
the elevation of his other son, Cyprian (v. 41): ' Nam pater huic, sicut me- 
ministis, Opilio fuit, vir quidem abjectis tewiporibus ad excubias tamen 
Palatinas electus.' 

2 ' His temporibus habitus est eximius, cum princeps non esset erectus.' 

3 This is probably the Basilius who was concerned in the accusation 
of Boethius (Phil. Cons. I. iv.) ; possibly the Consul of 541, who 
fled to Constantinople when Totila took Home in 546 (Procop. De Bello 
Gotthico iii. 20, and Anastasius Lib. Pontif. apud Murator. iii. 132); and 
perhaps the Basilius whom we find in trouble in Variarum iv. 22, 23: 
scarcely the Basilius of Variarum ii. 10, n.] 

* 'Gentiles victu (?), Romanes sibi judiciis obligabat.' 

Book VIII. Letters 17-18. 365 

been over and over again chosen as a referee (Judex 
privatus), thus showing the high opinion in which his 
integrity is held. 

'The Conscript Fathers are exhorted to endorse the 
favourable judgment of the King, by welcoming the 
new Count of Sacred Largesses into their body/ 

[In view of these letters I do not understand what 
Gibbon means by saying (cap. xxxix. n. 95), 'The charac- 
ters of the two delators, Basilius ('Var.' ii. 10, n ; iv. 22) 
and Opilio (v. 41 ; viii. 16), are illustrated, not much to 
their honour, in the Epistles of Cassiodorus.' This is 
quite true of Basilius, if the person alluded to in the 
references given by Gibbon be the same as the informer 
against Boethius, of which there may be a doubt ; but 
Opilio is mentioned, as we see, with the highest honour 
by Cassiodorus. So, too, is Decoratus, whom in the 
same note Gibbon too hastily stigmatises as ' the worth- 
less colleague of Boethius.'] 


[This cannot be the same as the Consul of 511, nor 
even his son ; for that Felix was of Gaulish extraction, 
and came from beyond the Alps.] 

' It is desirable that those who are appointed as Judges Promo- 
should know something of law, and most unfitting that he ^^ 
whom so many officials (milites) obey should be seen to be to the 
dependent for his law on some one of his subordinates, torship. 

'You long ago, when engaged in civil causes as an 
Advocate, were marked out by your Sovereign's eye *. 
He noted your eloquence, your fidelity, your youthful 
beauty, and your maturity of mind. No client could 
ask for more devotion than you showed in his cause; 
no Judge found in you anything to blame. 

' Receive then now the dignity of Quaestor for this 

1 ' Dudmn te forensibus negociis insudantem, oculus imperialis aspexit' 
an expression which goes very near to styling Theodoric Imperator. 

366 Cassiodori Variae. 

sixth Indiction (Sept. i, 527), and judge in the Courts 
where hitherto you have pleaded. 

' You are called Felix ; act so as always to merit that 
name ; for it is absurd to have a name which denotes 
one thing and to display the opposite in one's character. 
We think we have now said enough for a man of your 
good conscience. Many admonitions seem to imply 
a doubt of the character of him who receives them.' [A 
maxim often forgotten by Cassiodorus.] 


[On the promotion of Felix.] 

The same * As the sky with stars, or the meadow with flowers, 

subject. go ^ o we ^gk the s ena te to be resplendent with the 

. men of eminence whom we introduce into it. It is 

itself a seminary of Senators; but our favour and the 

dignities of our Court also rear them. 

' The Quaestorship is the true mother of the senatorial 
dignity, since who can be fitter to take his seat in the Curia 
than he who has shared the counsels of his Sovereign ? 

'You know the eloquence of our candidate [Felix], 
his early triumphs, his modesty, his fidelity. To leave 
such a man unpromoted were a public loss ; and he will 
always love the laws by the practice of which he has 
risen to eminence. 

'Nor is he the first of his race to earn rhetorical 
distinction. His father shone so brilliantly in the Forum 
of Milan, that he bloomed forth with undying fruits 
from the soil of Cicero 1 . He stood against Magnus 
Olybrius, he was found equal in fluency to Eugenius 2 

1 'Pater ita in Mediolanensi foro resplenduit, ut aeterno fructu e Tulliano 
cespite pullularet.' 

2 ' Is palmarum Eugenetis linguae ubertate suffecit.' Possibly this is 
the Magister Officiorum of Var. i. 12, and the person to whom is ad- 
dressed a letter of Ennodius (iv. 26). The form Eugenetis, instead of 
Eugenii, belongs to the debased Latinity of the age. 

Book VIII. Letters 19-20. 367 

and many others whom Rome knew as foremost in their 
art. If the transmission of material wealth by long 
descent makes men noble, how much more should 
the inheritance of the treasures of the intellect give 


' Your predecessor has been the model of a bad gover- Albienus 
nor. As the North wind clears the face of the sky from p^fto- 
the rain and clouds brought by the South wind, so do rian 
we look to you to repair the evils wrought by his mis- 
government. In all things your best maxim will be to 
do exactly the opposite of what he did. He made him- 
self hateful by his unjust prosecutions : do you become 
popular by your righteous deeds. He was rapacious : be 
you moderate. Soothe and relieve the harassed people 
entrusted to your charge. Receive for this sixth In- 
diction [Sept. 1,527-528] the fasces of the Praefecture, 
and let the office of Praetorian Praefect return to its 
ancient fame, an object of praise to the whole world 2 . 
This office dates from Joseph, and rightly is he who 
holds it called by our laws Father of the Provinces, 
Father of the Empire. 

' See that you avoid all unjust exactions. We can- 
not bear that our Treasury should be filled by un- 
righteous means. 

1 Your descent from a father who has held the same 
high office, and your intimate knowledge of the Dicta 
prudentum, warrant us in believing that you will make 
a good judge.' 

[I have not been able to find any hint of the name 

1 In Nivellius' edition the title of this office is given as Praepositus. 

2 'Redeat ad nomen antiquum Praefectura ilia Praetorii, toto orbe 
laudabilis.' Is it possible that there had been some attempt to change 
the title of the Praefect, which accounts for the Praepositus which in 
some MSS. we find in the heading of this letter? 

368 Cassiodori Variae. 

of the Praefectus Praetorio for 526-527, so bitterly 
condemned in this letter. As he may have held office 
for some years, his misgovernment may have been con- 
nected with the death of Boethius (524). Can we con- 
nect him with the Trigguilla 'Regiae Praepositus Domus ' 
whose injustice is denounced by Boethius (' Phil. Cons.' 

L 4 )1] 



Cyprian's In these two letters the high character and dis- 
tcfthe 1011 tinguished services of Cyprian are commemorated. 
Patrici- ' Under Theodoric he distinguished himself both in war 
and peace. At the time of the war of Sirmium he was 
conspicuous both in his resistance to the fiery onslaught 
of the Bulgarians and in his active pursuit of them 
when their ranks were broken 1 . He then filled, with 
great credit to himself, the office of Keferendarius 2 . 
Great was the responsibility of exercising peaceful as 
well as warlike offices under such a master as Theo- 
doric. In fact the training for one was helpful for 
the other, since it required a soldier's courage and 
promptness to be always ready with a truthful and 
accurate reply to that keen, firm -minded ruler of 
men 3 . 

' Thence he was promoted to the dignity of Count of 
the Sacred Largesses, a post well suited to his pure, 

1 ' Vidit te adhuc gentilis ' (still under the dominion of the Gepidae) 
*Danubius bellatorem: non te terruit Bulgarorum globus, qui etiam nos- 
tris erat praesumptione certaminis obstaturus. Peculiare tibi fuit et re- 
nitentes Barbaros aggredi, et converses terrore sectari. Sic victoriam 
Gothorum non tarn numero quam labore juvisti.' 

2 For a description of his services in this function, see Var. v. 40. 

3 This is evidently the meaning ; but something seems to have dropped 
out of the text. 

Book VIII. Letters 31-22. 369 

self-restrained character 1 . He is now growing old in 
body, but ever young in fame, and the King heartily 
wishes him increase of years to enjoy his renown. 

'Rightly, too, is there now conferred upon him the 
dignity of Patricius, since he is the father of such noble 
sons, men whose childhood was passed in the palace 
under the very eye of Theodoric (thus like young eagles 
already learning to gaze upon the sun), and who now 
cultivate the friendship of the Goths, learn from them 
all martial exercises, speak their language, and thus 
give evident tokens of their future fidelity to the Gothic 
nation 2 . 

' The Senate is therefore exhorted to welcome its thus 
promoted colleague, who at each accession of rank has 
shown himself yet worthier of his high place, and whom 
grandfather and grandson have both delighted to honour. 
Thus will it renew the glories of the Decii and the 
Corvini, who were its sons in the days of old.' 

[The subject of these letters is indisputably the same 
Cyprian whom the 'Anonymus Valesii' speaks of as 
suborning false witnesses against Albinus and Boethius, 
and of whom the latter says (' Phil. Cons.' i. 4) : ' Ne Albi- 
num, Consularem virum praejudicatae accusationis poena 
corriperet, odiis me Cypriani delatoris opposui.' Com- 
pare the remarks made on Letters 1 6 and 1 7 ; and 
remember that this letter was composed three years 
after the death of Boethius, when Theodoric also was 
dead, and his daughter was only too willing to retrace 
his steps, in all that concerned the severities of the latter 
years of his reign. For the pedigree of Cyprian see 
P- 3 6 3-] 

1 ' Hoc est laborum tuorum aptissimum munus : quam sic casta sic mo~ 
derata mente peregisti ut majora tibi deberi faceres, quamvis earn in magna 
praemia suscepisses.' 

2 'Relucent etiam gratia gentili, nee cessant armorum imbui fortibus insti- 
j tutis. Pueri stirpis Romanae nostrd lingud loquuntur; eximie indicantes 
\ exhibere se nobis futuram fidem, quorum jam videntur affectasse sermonem 
' . . . Variis linguis loquuntur egregie, maturis viris communione miscentur.' 


370 Cassiodori Variae. 


Gifts to ' Kings should always be generous, but especially to 
" those of their own family. 

'Therefore we desire your Greatness to transfer the 
farms herein described, to the exalted and most honour- 
able Theodahad, weighing out to him so many solidi, 
out of that which was formerly the patrimony of his 
magnificent Mother; and we guarantee to him the 
absolute ownership of such farms, free from any claims 
to the inheritance on our part 1 . 

' We trust to his sincerity and good faith, that in the 
future he will deserve the remainder of the above-men- 
tioned patrimony, with the addition of the whole 
quantity 2 . 

' What can we deny to such a man, whose obedience 
might claim a higher reward even were he not our 
cousin a man who is not puffed up by any pride of 
his noble birth, humble in his modesty, always uni- 
form in his prudence 1 ? Therefore instruct the Cartarii 
of your office to make over the aforesaid farms to his 
Actores without delay 3 .' 

1 ' Atque ideo illustrem magnitudinem tuam praecelso atque amplissimo 
viro Theodahado xnassas subter annexas, tot solidos pensitantes, ex patri- 
monio quondam magnificae foeminae matris ipsius, praecipimus reformari, 
ejus feliciter dominio plenissime vendicandas, cujus successionis integrum 
jus in ea qua praecipimus parte largimur.' According to Dahn (Konige 
der Germanen iv. 60-61), these lands had been given in her lifetime by 
Theodahad's mother to the King, and are now begged for by Theodahad. 
But why ' tot solidos pensitantes ? ' Why should Theodahad receive both 
land and money? There seems no authority for translating 'pensitantes' 
receiving. Probably the solidi thus paid to him are mesne rents received 
by the King and accounted for to Theodahad. On the whole affair cf. Pro- 
copius, De Bello Gotthico i. 4. 

2 'De cujus fide ac synceritate praesumimus, ut sequent! tempore re- 
liqua supra memorati patrimonii cum omni adjecta quantitate mereatur.' 
This sentence is to me quite unintelligible. 

3 Cf. the formalities connected with Odovacar's deed of gift to Pierius 
(Marini, Pap. Diplom. 82, 83), quoted in Italy and her Invaders iii. 165. 

Book VIII. Letters 23-24. 371 


' For the gift of kingly power we owe an infinite Ecclesi- 
debt to God, whose ministers ye are. 

'Ye state in your tearful memorial to us that it ties - 
has been an ordinance of long custom that anyone 
who has a suit of any kind against a servant of 
the sacrosanct Roman Church should first address 
himself to the chief Priest of that City, lest haply 
your clergy, being profaned by the litigation of the 
Forum, should be occupied in secular rather than 
religious matters. And you add that one of your 
Deacons has, to the disgrace of religion, been so 
sharply handled by legal process that the Sajo 1 has 
dared actually to take him into his own custody. 

'This dishonour to the Ministers of holy things is 
highly displeasing to our inborn reverence, yet we 
are glad that it gives us the opportunity of paying 
part of our debt to Heaven. 

'Therefore, considering the honour of the Apostolic 
See, and wishing to meet the desires of the petitioners, 
we by the authority of this letter decree in regular 
course 2 : 

'That if anyone shall think he has a good cause 
for going to law with a person belonging to the 
Roman clergy, he shall first present himself for hear- 
ing at the judgment-seat of the most blessed Pope, 
in order that the latter may either decide between 
the two in his own holy manner, or may delegate 
' the cause to a Jurisconsult to be ended by him. 
; And if, perchance, which it is impiety to believe, the 

1 In the text, ' Sajus.' 

2 Praesenti auctoritate moderate ordine definimus.' Dahn interprets 
! ' moderate ordine,' 'not so absolutely as the Roman clergy desires.' Is not 
1 this to attribute rather too much force to the conventional language of 

Cassiodorus ? 

Bb 2 

372 Cassiodori Variae. 

reasonable desire of the petitioner shall have been evaded, 
then may he come to the secular courts with his griev- 
ance, when he can prove that his petitions have been 
spurned by the Bishop of the aforesaid See x . 

' Should any litigant be so dishonest and so irreverent, 
both towards the Holy See and our authority, as 
to disregard this order [and proceed first in our 
tribunals against one of the Roman clergy], he shall 
forfeit lolbs. of gold [^400], to be exacted by the 
officers of the Count of Sacred Largesses and dis- 
tributed by the Pope to the poor; and he shall lose 
his suit in addition, notwithstanding any decree which 
he may have gained in the secular court. 

'Meanwhile do you, whom our judgments thus 
venerate, live according to the ordinances of the 
Church. It is a great wickedness in you to admit 
such crimes as do not become the conversation even 
of secular men. Your profession is the heavenly 
life. Do not condescend to the grovelling wishes 
and vulgar errors of ordinary mortals. Let the men 
of this world be coerced by human laws ; do you 
obey the precepts of righteousness.' 

[See Dahn, 'Konige der Germanen' iii. 191-3, Sar- 
torius 145, and Bauer's ' History of the Popes ' ii. 323-4, 
for remarks on this important privilegium. 

It is clear that it relates to civil, not criminal 
procedure, and that it does leave a right of final 
appeal from the Papal Courts to the dissatisfied secu- 
lar litigant. At the same time, that such an appeal 
would be prosecuted with immense difficulty is clear 
even from the words of the decree. The appellant 

1 ' Definimus, ut si quispiam ad Romanum Clerum aliquem pertinentem, 
in qualibet causst probabili crediderit actione pulsandum, ad beatissimi 
Papae judicium prius conveniat audiendus. Ut aut ipse inter utrosque 
more suae sanctitatis agnoscat, aut causam deleget aequitatis studio ter- 
minandam : et si forte, quod credi nefas est, competens desideriuna fuerit 
petitoris elusum, tune ad saecularia fora jurgaturus occurrat, quando suas 
petitiones probaverit a supradictae sedis praesule fuisse contemptaa.' 

Book VIII. Letters 24-25. 373 

will have to satisfy the King's Judges of a thing 
which it is almost impiety to believe, that the occupant 
of the Roman See has spurned his petitions.] 


' It is a very fitting thing to confirm the generosity Confir- 
of others towards persons who might well have re- 

ceived gifts from oneself. We therefore declare that gift of 
in your case the gift is another's but the will to hTthe 
give is our own, and the King has only been anti- Lucul - 
cipated by the rapid bounty of the subject 1 . 

'Everyone knows that our grandfather wished to 
give you the house of Agnellus in the Castrum 
Lucullanum, but could not do so having already 
given it to the Patrician Tulum 2 . Tulum, however, 
with his usual generosity, seconding the wishes of his 
master, formally conveyed the property to you ; and 
that conveyance we now confirm, guaranteeing the quiet 
possession of it to you and your heirs for all time to 
come. If any doubt exist as to your title, by any 
mischance, or "by reason of any enquiry, such doubt 
is exploded by the authority of this letter of ours 3 . 

'And should any envious person, in contempt of 
our royal will, dare to raise any question in this 
matter hereafter, either on behalf of the Fiscus or 
of any private individual, we declare that he shall 
pay to you, or to the person to whom you may have 
assigned the said house, loolbs. of gold (^4,000) by 
way of penalty.' 

1 ' Profitemur itaque alteriua quidem donum, sed nostrum esse judicium, 
et modernam principis inentem praevenisse tantum velocissimam largi- 
tatem.' Observe again the use of Cassiodorus' favourite word modernam. 

2 Tholuit, or Tholum, in some MSS., but no doubt the same as the 
Tulum of Letters 9 and 10. 

3 ' Ubi et si quid esset quolibet casu, qualibet inquisitione fortassis am- 
biguum, hujus auctoritatis nostrae judicio constat explosum.' 

374 Cassiodori Variae. 

[Why should there be the necessity of this royal 
confirmation of a transaction between two private in- 
dividuals, Tulum and Joannes, and this tremendous 
penalty on all future impugners of it ? 

Evidently because the property had been impressed 
with the character of State domain, and it was 
doubtful how far Tulum's alienation of it might 
stand good against the claims of future Sovereigns. 

This becomes quite clear when we reflect what is 
the property to which this letter refers. It is either 
the whole or a part of the Lucullanum, to which the 
deposed Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was banished 
in 476. On his death, as we may conjecture, this 
property, one of the most delightful places of resi- 
dence in Italy, has been given by Theodoric to 
Tulum, perhaps just after he had distinguished him- 
self in the Gaulish campaign of 508. For some reason 
or other, Tulum has alienated it (ostensibly, given it) 
to the Reporter Joannes, no doubt a Roman, who is 
apparently nervous lest his title to it should hereafter 
be impugned on the ground that the palace of the 
last Roman Emperor was national property. Hence 
this letter. There is some difficulty and variation be- 
tween the MSS. in the words describing the property: 
' Saepe dicta domus paternae recordationis Agnelli, in 
Lucullano castro posita.' For paternae, Migne's editor 
reads patriciae. The forthcoming critical edition of the 
'Variae' will show whether there is any support in the 
MSS. for a conjecture which I cannot help entertaining 
that Agnelli is an error for Augustuli.~\ 


settlers in 



ence to ' Our glorious grandfather had arranged that, in 
Prior accordance with your desire, Quidila, son of Sibia, 
QuidUa. should be your Captain (Prior). We confirm this ap- 

Book VIII. Letters 26-27. 375 

pointment, and desire you to obey him in all things. 
You are so far moulded by the character of our grand- 
father that you willingly obey both the laws and 
the Judges. Our enemies are best vanquished, and 
the favour both of Heaven and of other nations is best 
conciliated for us, by our obeying the principles of 
justice. If anyone is in need of anything, let him 
seek to obtain it from the generosity of his Sovereign 
rather than by the strength of his own right hand, 
since it is for your advantage that the Romans be 
at peace, who, in filling our Treasury, at the same 
time multiply your donatives.' 

[This letter is evidently addressed to Goths, and 
Quidila the Prior, who is set over them, is also a 
Goth. We can only conjecture what the office of Prior 
was: probably to some extent it involved civil as 
well as military authority. The conjecture of Dahn 
('Konige der Germanen ' iv. 173) that it corresponds to 
the Gothic Hundafath (Centenarius), seems to me ex- 
tremely probable. The title of the letter is curious. 
It is addressed 'Universis Reatinis et Nursinis.' Are 
we then to suppose that atrong military ftnlnnjga of 
Goths had been settled in these places, the Roman in- 
habitants having been extruded ? The fact that St. Bene- 
dict was born in Nursia, some fifty-seven years before 
the writing of this letter, gives an additional interest 
to this question.] 


* Justice must be shown upon the wicked. Different Kobbery 
diseases require different remedies. district 

' Let your Devotion speed instantly through the ter- of Faenza 
ritory of Faventia, and if you find any persons, either p r eS sed. P ~ 
Goths or Romans, concerned in the plunder of the pos- 

1 ' Florentine viro devoto Comitiaco.' 

376 Cassiodori Variae. 

sessors, punish them severely. How much better it 
would be for those misguided persons to live according 
to our will, and earn the reward of pleasing us.' [The 
last sentence is obscure, and perhaps the text is cor- 


[No doubt the same as the Conigast attacked by 

Boethius in the ' Philosophiae Consolatio' i. 4 1 .] 

Posses- 'Our Serenity has been moved by the grievous pe- 

coioni) tition of Constantius and Venerius, who complain that 

forced to Tanca [probably a Goth] has wrested from them the 

slaves, farm which is called Fabricula, which belonged to them 

in their own right, together with the stock upon it 2 , 

and has compelled them, in order to prevent similar 

forcible demands upon their property in future, to allow 

the worst lot of all the condition of slavery to be 

imposed upon them, who are really free 3 . 

' Let your Greatness therefore summon Tanca to your 
judgment-seat, and, after hearing all parties, pronounce 
a just judgment and one accordant to your character. 
For though it is a serious matter to oust a lord from 
his right, it is contrary to the feelings of our age to 
press down free necks under the yoke of slavery. 

'Let Tanca therefore either establish his right to the 
slaves and their property, or, if they are proved free, 
let him give them up, whole and unharmed: in which 
case we will inflict upon him no further penalty.' 

1 'Quoticus ego Conigastum in inbecillis cujusque fortunas impetum 
facientem obvius excepi ! ' 

2 ' Cum suo peculio.' If they were not slaves they could not have 
peculium in the technical sense. I therefore understand ' peculio ' to be 
simply equivalent to cattle, a sense which is confirmed by * Calabri pecu- 
liosi ' in Letter 33. 

3 ' Adjicientes ne rerum suarum repetitionibus imminerent [? imminue- 
rent] liberis sibi conditionem ultimae servitutis imponi.' Cf. Salvian, De 
Gubernatione Dei v. 8, 9, for a description of similar occurrences in Gaul. 

Book VIII. Letters 28-30. 377 



' You ought willingly to co-operate in that which Sanitary 
is being done for the advantage of your town. When ^edTd in 
it was suffering from a long drought, our grandfather, Parma, 
with God's help, watered it with the life-giving wave. 
Cleanse out then the mouths of your sewers, lest other- 
wise, being checked in its flow by the accumulated 
filth, it should surge back into your houses, and bring 
into them the pollution which it was meant to wash 

* The Spectabilis Genesius is appointed to superintend 
this work, and to quicken your zeal regarding it.' 


[Relating to the same subject as the preceding.] 
' Through love of your city our grandfather, with The same 
royal generosity, constructed an aqueduct of the ancient su Jec 
type 2 for you. But it is of no use to provide a good 
water-supply unless your sewers are in good order. 
Therefore let your Sublimity set the citizens of Parma 
diligently to work at this business, that all ancient 
channels, whether underground or those which run by 
the sides of the streets, be diligently repaired 3 , in order 
that when the longed-for stream flows into your town 
it be not hindered by any obstacle. 

* How fair is water in a running stream, but how ugly 
in puddles and swamps ; it is good then neither for man 
nor beast. Without water city and country alike lan- 
guish ; and rightly did the ancients punish one who was 
unfit for human society by forbidding all men to give 
him water. Therefore you ought all heartily to combine 

1 ' Honoratis Possessoribus.' 2 ' Antiqui operis formam.' 

3 'Quatenus antiques cuniculos, sive subterraneos, sive qui junguntur 
marginibus platearum diligenter emendent.' 

378 CaSsiodori Variae. 

for this most useful work, since the man who is not 
touched by the comeliness of his city has not yet the 
mind of a citizen.' 


[Is Severus Vicarius Urbis ? His title Spectabilis 
seems to require some such rank as this, otherwise he 
seems more like a Corrector (Clarissimus) Bruttiorum 
et Lucaniae. Perhaps already the strict gradation es- 
tablished by Diocletian and Constantine was somewhat 
broken down, and governors received higher titles than 
strictly belonged to them.] 

Dissua- ' Since you, when on the staff of the Praefect, have 

from a learned the principles of statesmanship, we are sure 

country that you will agree with us that -cities are^jthe^ c^ief 

praises of ornament of human society. Let the wild beasts live 

Cassio- i n fields and woods: men ought to draw together into 

native cities. Even among birds we see that those of gentle 

Bruttif disposition like thrushes, storks, and doves love to 

flock together, while the greedy hawk, intent on its 

bloody pastime, seeks solitude. 

' Now we say that the man who shuns human society 
becomes at once an object of suspicion. Let therefore 
the Possessores and Curiales of Bruttii return to their 
cities. The Coloni may cultivate the soil that is what 
their name denotes l ; but the men whom we decorate 
with civic honours ought to live in cities. 

' In truth it is a lovely land. Ceres and Pallas have 
crowned it with their respective gifts (corn and oil) ; 
the plains are green with pastures, the slopes are purple 
with vineyards. Above all is it rich in its vast herds 
of horses 2 , and no wonder, since the dense shade of its 

1 ' Coloni sunt qui agros jugiter colunt.' 

2 Cf. what is said (i. 4) as to the large present of horses made by the 
father of Cassiodorus to Theodoric for the use of the Gothic army. 

Book VIII. Letter 31. 379 

forests protects them from the bites of flies, and pro- 
vides them with ever verdant pasture even in the 
height of summer. Cool waters flow from its lofty 
heights ; fair harbours on both its shores woo the com- 
merce of the world. 

* There the countryman enjoys the good food of the 
citizen, the poor man the abundance of the wealthy 1 . 
If such then be the charms even of the country in 
your Province, why should you shirk living in its 
cities 2 ? 

' Why should so many men refined by literature 
skulk in obscurity? The boy goes to a good school, 
becomes imbued with the love of letters, and then, when 
he is come to man's estate and should be seeking the 
Forum in order to display his talents, he suddenly 
changes into a boor, unlearns all that he has learned, 
and in his love for the fields forgets what is due to 
a reasonable love for himself. And yet even birds love 
human, fellowship, and the nightingale boldly rears her 
brood close to the haunts of men. 

'Let the cities then return to their old splendour; 
let none prefer the charms of the country to the walls 
reared by the men of old. Why should not everyone 
be attracted by the concourse of noble persons, by 
the pleasures of converse with his equals ? To stroll 
through the Forum, to look in at some skilful crafts- 
man at his work, to push one's own cause through 
the law courts, then between whiles to play with 
the counters of Palamedes (draughts), to go to the 
baths with one's acquaintances, to indulge in the friendly 
emulation of the banquet these are the proper em- 
ployments of a Roman noble ; yet not one of them is 

1 ' Vivunt illic rustic! epulis urbanorum, medicares autem abundantia 
praepotentium.' ' Mediocres ' and ' tenues ' are technical words with 
Cassiodorus for the poor. 

2 Cassiodorus must have felt the weakness of his logic here. He patri- 
otically praises the rural beauty of Bruttii, yet the conclusion which by 
main force he arrives at is, ' Leave the country and live in towns.' 

380 Cassiodori Variae. 

tasted by the man who chooses to live always in the 
country with his farm-servants 1 . 

* We order therefore that all Possessores and Curiales 
shall, according to their relative means, find bail and 
give bonds, promising that they will for the larger 
part of the year reside in some city, such as they 
may choose 2 . And thus, while not wholly debarred 
from the pleasures of the country, they will furnish to 
the cities their proper adornment of citizens.' 


The 'Nimfadius (Vir Sublimis) was journeying to the 

ofAre- in King's Comitatus on some affair of his own, when, 

thusa. wearied with his journey, he lay down to rest, and 

let his beasts of burden graze round the fountain of 


' This fountain, situated in the territory of Squillace 3 , 
at the foot of the hills and above the sand of the sea, 
makes a green and pleasant place all round it, fringed 
with rustling reeds as with a crown. It has certain 
marvellous properties : for let a man go to it in silence 
and he sees it calmly flowing, more like a pond than a 
fountain. But let him cough or speak with a loud 
voice, and it becomes violently agitated, heaving to 
and fro like a pot boiling. Strange power this of a 
fountain to answer a man. I have read that some 

1 ' Cui enim minus grata nobilium videatur occursio. Cui non affectuosum 
sit cum paribus miscere sermonem, forum petere, honestas artes invisere, 
causas proprias legibus expedire, interdum Palamediacis calculis occupari, 
ad balneas ire cum sociis, prandia mutuis apparatibus exhibere? Caret 
profecto omnibus his, qui vitam suam vult semper habere cum famulis.' 

2 ' Datis fidejussoribus jam Possessores quam Curiales, sub aestimatione 
virium, poenS, interposita, promittant anni parte majore se in civitatibus 
manere, quas habitare delegerint.' 

3 'In Scyllatino territoris.' Transcribers, thinking of the Arethusa at 
Syracuse, have tried to alter this into Siciliano ; but there can be little 
doubt that the above reading is right. As to the situation of the Fountain 
of Arethusa, see Introduction, p. 72. 

Book VIII. Letters 32-33. 381 

fountains can change the colours of the animals that 
drink at them ; that others can turn wood dropped 
into them to stone. The human reason is altogether 
unable to understand such things as these. 

' But let us return to the complaint of our suppliant. 
Nimfadius asserts that, while he was resting, the country 
people artfully drove off his beasts of burden. 

'This kind of crime brings our times into disgrace, 
and turns the charm of that quiet resting-place into 
disgust'. Diligently enquire into it, for the credit of 
our Comitatus is involved in our subjects being able 
to journey to it in safety. At first, no doubt, the 
offenders will lie close, and seem as silent as the unmoved 
Arethusa. But begin your investigations, and they will 
soon break forth, like that fountain, with angry excla- 
mations, in the midst of which you will discover the 
truth. Punish the offenders severely; for we should 
regret that owing to the excesses of robbers that wonder- 
ful and joy -bringing fountain should be deserted.' 


' We hear that the rustics are indulging in disorderly The 
practices, and robbing the market-people who come from ^j 
all quarters to the chief fair of Lucania on the day of Cyprian. 
St. Cyprian. This must by all means be suppressed, and 
your Respectability should quietly collect a sufficient 
' number of the owners and tenants of the adjoining 
| farms 1 to overpower these freebooters and bring them 
! to justice. Any rustic or other person found guilty of 
I disturbing the fair should be at once punished with the 
stick 2 , and then exhibited with some mark of infamy 
i upon him 3 . 

1 ' Spectabilitas vestra praedicto tempore, una cum Possessoribus atque 
I Conductoribus diversarum inassarum ad quietem convenientium . . . reos 

inveniat,' &c. 

2 ' Inter ipsa initia comprehensus fustuariae subdatur ultioni.' 

3 * Pompatus mala nota.' 

382 Cassiodori Variae. 

f This fair, which according to the old superstition was 
named Leucothea [after the nymph], from the extreme 
purity of the fountain at which it is held, is the greatest 
fair in all the surrounding country. Everything that 
industrious Campania, or opulent Bruttii, or cattle-breed- 
ing Calabria 1 , or strong Apulia produces, is there to be 
found exposed for sale, on such reasonable terms that 
no buyer goes away dissatisfied. It is a charming sight 
to see the broad plains filled with suddenly-reared 
houses formed of leafy branches intertwined: all the 
beauty of the most leisurely-built city, and yet not 
a wall to be seen. There stand ready boys and girls, 
with the attractions which belong to their respective 
sexes and ages, whom not captivity but freedom sets 
a price upon. These are with good reason sold by their 
parents, since they themselves gain by their very servi- 
tude. For one cannot doubt that they are benefited even 
as slaves [or servants ?], by being transferred from the 
toil of the fields to the service of cities 2 . 

'What can I say of the bright and many-coloured 
garments ? what of the sleek and well-fed cattle offered 
at such a price as to tempt any purchaser ? 

' The place itself is situated in a wide and pleasant 

1 ' Calabri peculiosi.' 

2 'Praesto sunt pueri ac puellae, diverse sexu atque aetate conspicuo, 
quos non facit captivitas esse sub pretio sed libertas : hos merito parentes 
vendunt, quoniam de ipsa famulatione proficiunt. Dubinin quippe non est 
servos posse nieliorari qui de labore agrorum ad urbana servitia trans- 
feruntur.' With almost any writer but Cassiodorus this would prove that 
in the Sixth Century free Italians were selling their children into actual 
slavery. But I doubt whether he really means more than that the chil- 
dren of the country people were for hire as domestic servants in the cities. 
If so, the scene is not unlike our own * statute fairs ' or ' hirings ' in the 
north of England. It appears from 94 of the Edictum Theodorici that 
parents could sell their children, but that the latter did not lose their status 
ingenuus. Must they then claim it on coming of age ? ' Parentes qui cogente 
necessitate filios suos alimentorum gratia vendiderint ingenuitati eorum 
non praejudicant. Homo enim liber pretio nullo aestimatur.' Cf. also 
95 : ' Operas enim tantum parentes filiorum quos in potestate habuerint, 
locare possunt.' 

Book VIII. Letter 33. 


plain, a suburb of the ancient city of Cosilinum, and has 
received the name of Marcilianum from the founder of 
these sacred springs 1 . 

' And this is in truth a marvellous fountain, full and 
fresh, and of such transparent clearness that wh^n you 
look through it you think you are looking through air 
alone. Choice fishes swim about in the pool, perfectly 
tame, because if anyone presumes to capture them he 
soon feels the Divine vengeance. On the morning which 
precedes the holy night [of St. Cyprian], as soon as the 
Priest begins to utter the baptismal prayer, the water 
begins to rise above its accustomed height. Generally it 
covers but five steps of the well, but the brute element, as 
if preparing itself for miracles, begins to swell, and at last 
covers two steps more, never reached at any other time 
of the year. Truly a stupendous miracle, that streams of 
water should thus stand still or increase at the sound of 
the human voice, as if the fountain itself desired to listen 
to the sermon. 

' Thus hath Lucania a river Jordan of her own. 
Wherefore, both for religion's sake and for the profit of 
the people, it behoves that good order should be kept 
among the frequenters of the fair, since in the judgment 
of all, that man must be deemed a villain who would 
sully the joys of such happy days.' 

1 Marcilianum is now Sala, in the valley of the Galore (Tanager). 
Padula is thought by some to mark the site of Cosilinum. The Island 
of Leucosia, now Licosa, a few miles from Paestum, evidently does not 
represent the Leucothea of this letter. 



VANDALS (A.D. 527). 

Murder ' FRIENDSHIP and relationship are turned to bitterness 

lafridT ^y the tidings that Amalafrida, of divine memory, the 

widow distinguished ornament of our race, has been put to death 

Thrasa? by you 1 . If you had any cause of offence against her, you 

mund ought to have sent her to us for judgment. What you 

ter of have done is a species of parricide. If the succession, on 

doric" *ke death of her husband, passed to another [yourself], 

that was no reason why a woman should be embroiled 

in the contest. It was really an addition to your 

1 With reference to this event Victor Tunnunensis writes : ' Cujus 
(Trasamundi) uxor Amalafrida fugiens ad barbaros congressione facta 
Capsae juxta Heremum capitur, et in custodia privata moritur.' Pro- 
copius (De B. Vandalico i. 9) says : Kcu atyiai (rots Bai/StAots) 
v^pi\(a re KCU TorOois kv 'lTa\ia K re ovp.p.axwv KOI <pi\oav iroXf 
aOai' rf)v re yap ' ApaXatypiSav kv (f>v\a.KT) ta~xov Kai TOVS TorOovs 
airavras firfvcyKovrfs avrois vecarfpifciv es Tf Bai/SiAows teal 'iXdepixov. Both 
Victor and Procopius seem to place the conflict before the death of Theo- 
doric; Victor says A.D. 523. Probably therefore the fighting, the capture 
of Amalafrida, and the death of her countrymen, took place in that year, 
the year of her husband's death and Hilderic's accession. Three or four 
years later (526 or 527), when her brother Theodoric was dead, the im- 
prisoned princess was murdered a grievous insult to the young Sovereign 
of the Goths, her great-nephew. 

Book IX. Letters 1-2. 385 

nobility to have the purple dignity of the Amal blood 
allied to the lineage of the Hasdingi. 

'Our Goths keenly feel the insults conveyed in this 
deed, since to slay the royal lady of another race is to 
despise the valour of that race and doubt its willing- 
ness to avenge her. 

'We send you two ambassadors to hear what your 
excuses are. We hear that you pretend that her death 
was natural. And you also must send ambassadors in 
return to us to explain the matter, without war or blood- 
shed, and either pacify us or acknowledge your guilt. If 
you do not do this, all ties of alliance between us are 
broken, and we must leave you to the judgment of the 
Divine Majesty, which heard the blood of Abel crying 
from the ground.' 


' The body of the Republic is so tempered together Opp 
that if one member suffers all the members suffer with 
it. The Curiales, whose name is derived from their care riales 
(cura) and forethought, are, we are told, molested by 
hostile proceedings, so that what was bestowed upon 
them as an honour turns out rather to their injury. 
What scandalous injustice! What an insupportable 
evil! that he who ought to have benefited the Repub- 
lic by his services, should often lose both fortune and 
. liberty. 

* Wherefore by this edict we decree that if any Curialis 

suffer oppression, if anyone, without the express warrant 

' of ourselves or the high officers of State whose business 

> it is, inflict upon a Curialis any injury or loss of property, 

! he shall pay a fine of lolbs. of gold (,400), to go to the 

j benefit of the person thus oppressed ; or, if his property 

| be insufficient to pay this fine, he shall be beaten with 

I clubs. The Curialis must then give additional diligence to 

the discharge of his public duties, since his debt to the 

c c 

|38o Cassiodori Variae. 

State is, as it were, increased by the protection which we 
are thus affording him. As for the farms of Curiales, in 
connection with which the greatest frauds are practised 
on poor men, let no one seek to obtain them by an 
unlawful purchase ; for a contract cannot be called a 
contract when it is in violation of the law 1 . The 
JudgelT^must help the Curiales against the molestations 
of Sffcones and other officials. It is a grievous offence, 
wheir4ke very person to whom is entrusted the duty of 
defending the weak, himself turns oppressor. 

' Raise your heads in hope, oh ye oppressed ones ! lift 
up your hearts, ye who are weighed down with a load 
of evils ! To each citizen his own city is his Republic. 
Administer justice in your cities in conformity with the 
general will. Let your various ranks live on a footing 
of justice. Do not oppress the weak, lest you in your 
turn be deservedly oppressed by the strong. This is the 
penalty of wrong-doing, that each one suffers in his own 
person what he has wantonly inflicted on another. 

'Live then in justice and moderation. Follow the 
example of the cranes, who change the order of their 
flight, making foremost hindmost, and hindmost fore- 
most, without difficulty, each willingly obeying its fel- 
low a commonwealth of birds. 

'You have, according to the laws, power over your 
^ citizens. Not in vain has Antiquity conceded to you the 
title of Curia: not vainly did it call you the Lesser 
Senate^jSe nerves and vital organs of the State *. ^What 
is not contained of holaouFandTpbwer in that title ! For 
that which is compared to the Senate is excluded from 
no kind of glory/ 

1 'Praedia Curialium, unde maximae mediocribus parantur insidiae, 
nullus illicita emptione pervadat. Quia contractus dici non potest nisi qui 
de legibus venit.' 

2 ' Non enim incassum vobis Curiam concessit Antiquitas, non inaniter 
appellavit Minorem Senatum, nervos quoque vocitans ac viscera civi- 

Book IX. Letters 2-3. 387 


* Gold, as well as many other fair fruits of Nature which Gold- 
gold can buy, is said to be produced by our generous 
Italy. Theodorus, who is an expert in such matters, 
asserts that gold will be found on the farm Eusticiana in 
Bruttii 2 . Let your Greatness therefore send a Cartarius 
to commence mining operations on that spot. The work 
of a miner resembles that of a mole. He burrows under- 
ground, far from the light of day. Sometimes the sides 
of his passages fall in and his way is closed up behind 
him ; but if he emerge safely with his treasure, how 
happy is he ! Then the gold-miner proceeds to im- 
merse his ore in water, that the heavy metal may be 
separated from the lighter earth ; then to submit it to 
a fervent heat, that it may thence derive its beautiful 
colour 3 . 

' Let then the land of Bruttii pay her tribute in gold, 
the most desired of all treasure. To seek gold by war is 
wicked, by voyages dangerous, by swindling shameful ; 
but to seek it from Nature in its own home is righteous. 
No one is hurt by this honest gain. Griffins are said to 
dig for gold and to delight in the contemplation of this 
metal ; but no one blames them, because their proceedings 
are not dictated by criminal covetousness. For it is not 
the act itself, but the motive for the act, that gives it its 
moral quality.' 

1 Cf. viii. 23. 

2 Have we any clue to the geographical position of this farm ? The only 
Rusticiana known to the Itineraries is in Spain. 

3 'Origo quidem nobilis, sed de flamma suscipit vim colons, ut magis 
credas inde nasci, cujus similitudine videtur ornari. Sed cum auro tribuat 
splendidum ruborem, argento confert albissimam lucem. Ut mirum sit, 
unam substantiam tradere, quod rebus dissimilibus possit aptari.' Have 
we here a hint of 'the transmutation of metals?' Cassiodorus seems to 
think that it is only the furnace that makes the difference between the 
colours of gold and of silver. 

C C 2 

388 Cassiodori Variae. 


A family < The pietas of the King is happily shown in mode- 
ales per- rating the sentence of the law, where for certain reasons 
to^te* 1 ** k ears with especial hardness on anyone. The Curiales 
down have peculiar advantages in their opportunity of being 
ranks of thus liberated by the Sovereign from the performance of 
the Pos- their duties l . It is reasonable to release a Curialis whose 
health prevents him from fulfilling his appointed task ; 
and a numerous Curia will never miss a few names out 
of so large a number. 

'Therefore let your Illustrious Magnificence remove 
Agenantia, wife [or widow?] of the most eloquent man 
Campanianus, dwelling in Lucania, from the album of 
her Curia, and her sons also, so that posterity may 
never know that they were formerly liable to Curial 

' Remitted to the ranks of [mere] Possessores they will 
now be liable to the same demands which formerly 
[as members of the Curia] they made upon others. They 
will now dread the face of the tax-collector (compulsor), 
and will begin to fear the mandates by which formerly 
they made themselves feared 2 . Still this is a sign of 
their past good life, that they are willing to live without 
office among a population whose dislike they are not 
conscious of having incurred, and under old colleagues 
whom they know that they have not incited to an abuse 
of their powers/ 

1 ' Neque enim ob aliud Curiales leges sacratissimae ligaverunt, nisi ut 
cum illos soli principes absolverent, indulgentiae praeconia reperirent.' 

3 ' Formidare delegata incipient, per quae antea timebantur.' To trans- 
late by an analogy, ' And will tremble at the rate-summonses, their sig- 
natures to which used to make other men tremble.' 

Book IX. Letters 4-6. 389 


' We learn with regret by the complaint of the Posses- Fore- 
sores of your district that the severity of famine is being ^fre? 
increased by the conduct of certain persons who have grating 
bought up corn and are holding it for higher prices. pro hi- 
In a time of absolute famine there can be no " higgling bited - 
of the market ; " the hungry man will submit to be 
cheated rather than let another get the food before 
him 2 . 

'To stop this practice we send to you the present 
messengers, whose business it is to examine all the stores 
of corn collected for public distribution 3 or otherwise, 
to leave to each family sufficient for its needs, and to 
purchase the remainder from the owners at a fair market 
price. Co-operate with these orders of ours cheerfully, 
and do not grumble at them. Complain not that your 
freedom is interfered with. There is no free-trade in 
crime 4 . If you work with us you will earn good re- 
nown for yourselves ; if against us, the King's repu- 
tation will gain by your loss. It is the sign of a good 
ruler to make men act righteously, even against their 



' You complain that your health is failing under the granted 

long pressure of your work, and that you fear, if you 
absent yourself, you may lose the emoluments of your Baiae. 

1 ' Episcopis et Honoratis/ Perhaps it is from motives of delicacy that 
Cassiodorus has not added the name of the Province. 

2 ' In necessitate siquidem penuriae pretii nulla contentio est : dum 
patitur quis induci ne possit aliqua tarditate percelli.' 

3 ' Sive in gradu [panis gradilis ?] sive in aliis locis.' 

4 A paraphrase, confessedly anachronistic, of ' Ne quis ergo venditi- 
onem sibi impositam conqueratur, sciat libertatem in crimine non requiri.' 

390 Cassiodori Variae. 

office. At the same time you ask leave to visit the 
Baths of Baiae. Go then with a mind perfectly at 
rest as to your emoluments, which we will keep safe 
for you. Seek the Sun, seek the pure air and smiling 
shore of that lovely bay, thickly set with harbours and 
dotted with noble islands that bay in which Nature 
displays all her marvels and invites man to explore 
her secrets. There is the Lake of Avernus, with its 
splendid supply of oysters. There are long piers jut- 
ting out into the sea; and the most delightful fishing 
in the world is to be had in the fish-ponds open to 
the sky on either side of them. There are warm baths, 
heated not by brick-work flues and smoky balls of 
fire, but by Nature herself. The pure air supplies the 
steam and softly stimulates perspiration, and the health- 
giving work is so much the better done as Nature is 
above Art. Let the Coralli [in Moesia, on the shore of 
the Euxine] boast their wonderful sea, let the pearl 
fisheries of India vaunt themselves. In our judgment 
Baiae, for its powers of bestowing pleasure and health, 
surpasses them all. Go then to Baiae to bathe, and 
have no fear about the emoluments.' 


[We learn from Procopius (' De Bello Gotthico ' i. 26) 
that Reparatus was brother of Pope Vigilius ; that in 
537 he escaped from the captivity in which the other 
Senators were kept at Ravenna by Witigis, and fled 
to Milan. In 539 Reparatus, who was then Praefectus 
Praetorio, was captured at Milan by the Goths, hewn 
Kepara- in pieces, and his flesh given to the dogs (Ibid. 

tus ap- . . XT 
pointed I*- 2l).] 

Praefec- < The son of a high official naturally aspires to emulate 
Urbis. his father's dignities. Your father had a distinguished 

Book IX. Letters 7-8. 391 

career, first as Comes Largitionum, then as Praefectus 
Praetorio. While holding the latter office, he repaired 
the Senate-house, restored to the poor the gifts (?) of 
which they had been deprived 1 , and though not himself 
a man of liberal education, pleased all by the natural 
charm of his manner. 

' You have those advantages of mental training which 
were denied to your father. Education lifts an obscure 
man on to a level with nobles, but also adorns him 
who is of noble birth. You have moreover been chosen 
as son-in-law by a man of elevated character, whose 
choice is in itself a mark of your high merit. You 
are coming young to office 2 ; but, with such a man's 
approbation, you cannot be said to be untried. 

' We therefore confer upon you for this Indiction the 
dignity of Praefect of the City. The eyes of the world 
are upon you. The Senate, that illustrious and critical 
body, the youngest members of which are called Patres, 
will, listen to your words. See that you say nothing 
which can displease those wise men, whose praise, 
though hard to win, will be most sweet to your ears. 
Diligently help the oppressed. Hand on to your pos- 
terity the renown which you have received from your 



' We reward our faithful servants with high honours, Osuin 
hoping thereby to quicken the slothful into emulation, 
when they ask themselves why, under such an impar- of Dai 
tial rule, they too do not receive promotion. an( l 

' We therefore again entrust to your Illustrious Great- 

1 * Curiam reparans, pauperibus ablata restituens.' 

1 'Licet primaevus venias ad honorem ' 

3 Cf. iii. 26 and iv. 9. In the former letter he is called Osun. 

392 Cassiodori Variae. 

ness the Provinces of Dalmatia and S(u)avia. We need 
not hold up to you the examples of others. You have 
only to imitate yourself, and to confer now again in 
your old age the same blessings on those Provinces 
which, as a younger man, you bestowed on them under 
our grandfather.' 


The same c We send back to you the Illustrious Count Osuin, 
whose valour and justice you already know, to ward 
off from you the fear of foreign nations, and to keep 
you from unjust demands. With him comes the Illus- 
trious Severinus 1 , that with one heart and one mind, 
like the various reeds of an organ, they may utter their 
praiseworthy precepts. 

Kemis- ' As an act of grace on the commencement of our 

Augmen- re ig n > we direct the Count of the Patrimony to remit 

turn. to you all the super-assessment (augmentum) which 

was fixed for your Province at the fourth Indic- 

tion 2 . 

'We also grant that when the aforesaid person 
[Severinus] returns to our presence, you may send 
suitable men with him to inform us of your financial 
position, that we may, by readjustment of the taxes, 
lighten your load if it be still too- heavy. Nothing 
consolidates the Republic so much as the uninjured 
powers of the taxpayer.' 

1 We are not told in what capacity Severinus came. Probably 
it was on account of Osuin's age that Severinus was associated with 

2 ' Per quartam Indictionem quod a nobis augmenti nomine quaerebatur 
illustrem virum Comitem Patrimonii nostri nunc jussimus removere.' As 
the fourth Indiction began Sept. 525, in the lifetime of Theodoric, it is 
clear that that date belongs to the imposition, not to the removal of the 
' augmentum.' 

Book IX. Letters 9-10. 393 


' Lately we announced to you our accession : now we Kemis- 
wish to confer upon you a benefit in the matter of^ n m f e] 
taxes. For we look on that only as our revenue which turn to 
the cultivator pays cheerfully. Our grandfather, con- 
sidering the great increase in wealth and population 
which his long and peaceful reign had brought with 
it, thought it prudent to increase the taxes to be paid 
by the Province of Sicily 1 . He was quite right in doing 
this, but he thereby prepared for us, his young successor, 
an opportunity of conferring an unexpected favour, for 
we hereby remit to you all the augmentum which 
was assessed upon you at the fourth Indiction. And 
not only so, but all that you have already paid under 
this head for the fifth Indiction (526-7) we direct 
the tax-collectors to carry to your credit on ac- 
count 2 . 

' Besides this, if anyone have to complain of oppres- 
sion on the part of the Governors of the Province, let 
him seek at once a remedy from our Piety. Often 
did our grandfather of glorious memory grieve over 
the slowness of the Governors to obey their letters 
of recall, feeling sure that they were lingering in the 
Provinces neither for his good nor yours. 

'We however, with God's help, shall go on in the 
good work which we have begun. You have a Prince 
who, the older he grows, the more will love you. We 
send to you our Sajo Quidila, who will convey to you 
our orders on this matter.' 

1 ' Avus noster de suis beneficiis magna praesumens (quia longa quies et 
culturam agris praestitit et populos ampliavit) intra Siciliam provinciam 
sub consueta prudentiae suae moderatione censum statuit subflagitari ut 
vobis cresceret devotio, quibus se facultas extenderat.' 

This must be the meaning of ' quicquid a discursoribus novi census per 
| quintain Indictionem probatur affixum, ad vestram eos fecimus deferre no- 

394 Cassiodori Variae. 




Oppres- Victor and Witigisclus are sharply rebuked for their 
S1 er S isea ^^J ^ n Desisting from the oppression of the Provincials 
by the and coming to the Court of Theodoric when called for 2 , 

officers a delay which is made more suspicious by their not 
in Sicily having presented themselves to welcome Athalaric on 
his accession. Both they and Count Gildias are in- 
formed of the King's decision to remit the increased tax 
imposed at the fourth Indiction (Sept. 525) ; and the 
two Censitores are recommended, if they are conscious 
of having oppressed or injured any of the Provincials, 
to remedy the matter themselves, as the King has 
given all the Sicilians leave to appeal to himself 
against their oppressions: and the complaints of the 
Sicilians, though distant, will certainly reach his ears. 


Increase ' Your Greatness informs us of cases that have come 
ments 1U " ^ vour knowledge, in which the Guards (Domestici) at- 
of Do- tending the Counts who are appointed [to the govern- 
men o various Provinces] have oppressed the Pro- 
vincials by their exactions. As we believe that there 
is some excuse for this in the smallness of their emolu- 
menta, which at present consist of only 200 solidi (120) 
and ten rations (Annonae), we direct that you henceforth 

1 Tax-collectors. The word is unknown to the Notitia, but Censuales 
occurs once in it (Not. Occ. iv.). 

2 ' Quos etiam seris praeceptionibus credidit esse admonendos, ut relicto 
tandem provincialium gravamine ad ejus deberetis justitiam festinare.' 

Book IX. Letters 11-14. 395 

pay them, as from the fifth Indiction (Sept. 526), 50 
solid! (30) annually, in addition to the above, charging 
this further payment to our account. By taking away 
Necessity, the mother of crimes, we hope that the prac- 
tice of sinning will also be removed. If, after this, any- 
one is found oppressing the Provincials, let him lose his 
emolumenta altogether. Our gifts ennoble the receiver, 
and are given in order to take away from him any pre- 
text for begging from others.' 

[The Domestici were a very select corps of Life-guards- 
men-y-probably only a very small number of them would 
accompany a Provincial Governor to his_charge. This 
may explain what seems an extraordinarily high rate 
of pay. Perhaps it is the Comes himself, not his Domes- 
tici, who is to receive the emolumenta here specified ; 
but, if so, the letter is very obscurely expressed.] 


' We hear great complaints of you from the Sicilians ; Oppres- 
but, as they are willing to let bye-gones be bye-gones, charged* 
we accede to their request, but give you the following against 


warning: Comes of 

'(i) You are said to have extorted large sums from Syracuse, 
them on pretence of rebuilding the walls, which you 
have not done. Either repay them the money or build 
up their walls. It is too absurd, to promise fortifications 
and give instead to the citizens hideous desolation 1 . 

'(2) You are said to be claiming for the Exchequer 

(under the name of "Fiscus Caducus") the estates of 

| deceased persons, without any sort of regard for justice, 

| whereas that title was only intended to apply to the 

case of strangers dying without heirs, natural or testa- 

i mentary. 

1 ' Nimis enim absurdum est, spondere munitiones et dare civibus ex- 
cecrabiles vastitates.' 

396 Cassiodori Variae. 

1 (3) You are said to be oppressing the suitors in the 
Courts with grievous charges 1 , so that you make litiga- 
tion utterly ruinous to those who undertake it. 

'We order therefore that when our 2 decrees are being 
enforced against a beaten litigant, the gratuity claimed 
by the officer shall be the same which our glorious 
grandfather declared to be payable according to the 
respective ranks of the litigants to the Sajo who was 
charged with the enforcement of the decree ; for gratui- 
ties ought not to be excessive 3 . 

' But if your decrees are being enforced and that 
must be only in cases against persons with whom the 
edicts allow you to interfere 4 then your officer must 
receive half the gratuity allowed to him who carries our 
decrees into execution. It is obviously improper that 
the man who only performs your orders should receive 
as much as is paid out of reverence for our com- 
mand. Anyone infringing this constitution is to restore 

' (4) The edicts of our glorious grandfather, and all 
the precepts which he made for the government of Sicily, 
are to be so obediently observed that he shall be held 
guilty of sacrilege who, spurred on by his own beastly 
disposition, shall try to break down the bulwark of our 
commands 5 . 

'(5) It is said that you cite causes between two 
Romans, even against their will, before your tribunal. 
If you are conscious that this has been done by you, do 
not so presume in future, lest while seeking the office of 

1 ' Conventiones.' I think the complaint here is of the expenses of ' exe- 
cuting process.' It is not as Judge but as the functionary who carries the 
Judge's orders into effect that Gildias is here blamed. 

2 ' Nostra' (the reading of Nivellius) seems evidently a better reading 
than ' vestra' (which Migne has adopted). 

3 * Commodum debet esse cum modo.' A derivation or a pun. 

4 ' Duntaxat in illis causis atque personis, ubi te misceri edicta vo- 

5 ' Quisquis belluinis moribus excitatus munimen tentaverit irrumpere 

Book IX. Letter 14. 397 

Judge, for which you are incompetent, you wake up to 
find yourself a culprit. You, of all men, ought to be 
mindful of the Edictum, since you insist on its being / 
followed by others. If not, if this rule is not observed^ 
by you, your whole power of decreeing shall be taken 
from you. Let the administration of the laws be pre- 
served intact to the Judices Ordinarii. Let the liti- 
gants throng, as they ought to do, to the Courts of 
their Cognitores. Do not be gnawed by envy of their 
pomp. The__fcrue praise of the Goths is law*ab%d<mg- 
ness 1 . The more seldom the litigant is seen in^ your 
presence the greater i^ your_renown. Do you defend 
the State with your arms ; let the Romans plead before 
their own law courts in peace. 

' (6) You are also accused of insisting on buying the 
cargoes of vessels that come to the port at your own 
price [and selling again at a higher] a practice the very 
suspicion of which is injurious to an official, even if it 
cannot be proved against him in fact 2 . Wherefore, if 
you wish to avoid the rumour of this deed, let the 
Bishop and people of the city come forward as witnesses 
on behalf of your conscience 3 . Prices ought to be fixed 
by the common deliberation [of buyer and seller] ; since 
no one likes a commercial transaction which is forced 
upon the unwilling. 

' Wherefore we have thought it proper to warn your 
Sublimity by these presents, since we do not like those 
whom we love to be guilty of excess, nor to hear evil 
reports of those who are charged with reforming the 
morals of others.' 

[This is an important letter, especially when taken 
; in connection with the words of Totila (Procopius, ' De 

1 \ Gothorum laus est civilitas custodita^ 

3 This seems a possible interpretation of a dark sentence: 'Navigiis 
I vecta commercia te suggerunt occupare, et ambitu cupiditatis exosae solum 
j antiqua pretia definire, quod non creditur a suspicione longinquum etiam 
si non sit actione vicinum.' 

3 Is this a kind of compurgation which is here proposed ? 

398 Cassiodori Variae. 

Bello Gotthico ' iii. 1 6), as to the exceptional indulgence 
with which the Gothic Kings had treated Sicily, ' leav- 
ing, at the request of the inhabitants, very few soldiers 
in the island, that there might be no distaste to their 
freedom or to their general prosperity.' 

Gildias is evidently a Goth, and though a Vir Spec- 
tabilis and holding a Roman office the Comitiva Syra- 
cusanae Civitatis still it is essentially a military office, 
and he has no business to divert causes from the Judices 
Ordinarii to his tribunal, though probably a Roman 
Comes might often do this without serious blame. But 
by his doing so, the general principle, that in purely 
Roman causes a Goth is not to interfere, seems to be 
infringed, and therefore he receives this sharp reprimand 
to prevent his doing it again.] 


Against The Defensor of the Roman Church hath informed us 

atTapal i n hi g tearful petition that lately, when a President was 

elections. SO ught for the Papal chair, so much were the usual 

largesses to the poor augmented by the promises which 

had been extorted from the candidate, that, shameful to 

say, even the sacred vessels were exposed to sale in 

order to provide the necessary money 1 . 

' Therefore let your Holiness know that by this pre- 
sent decree, which relates also to all the Patriarchs and 
Metropolitan Churches [the five Metropolitan Churches 
in Rome, and such Sees as Milan, Aquileia, Ravenna], 
we confirm the wise law passed by the Senate in the 
time of the most holy Pope Boniface [predecessor of 
John II]. By it any contract or promise made by 
any person in order to obtain a Bishopric is declared 

1 ' Quosdam nefaria machinatione necessitatem temporis aucupatos, ita 
facultates pauperum extortis promissionibus ingravasse, ut quod dictu nefas 
eat, etiam sacra vasa emptioni publicae viderentur exposita.' 

Book IX. Letter 15. 399 

'Anyone refusing to refund money so received is to 
be declared guilty of sacrilege, and restitution is to be 
enforced by the Judge.' 

'Should a contention arise as to an election to the 
Apostolic See, and the matter be brought to our Palace 
for decision, we direct that the maximum fee to be paid, 
on the completion of the necessary documents (?), shall 
be 3,000 solidi [1,800] *; but this is only to be exacted 
from persons of sufficient ability to pay it. 

* Patriarchs [Archbishops of the other great Italian 
Sees] under similar circumstances are to pay not more 
than 2,000 solidi [1,200]. 

'No one is to give [on his consecration] more than 
500 solidi [300] to the poor. 

'Anyone professing to obtain for money the suffrage 
of any one of our servants on behalf of a candidate for 
Papacy or Patriarchate, shall be forced to refund the 
money. If it cannot be recovered from him, it may be from 
his heirs. He himself shall be branded with infamy. 

' Should the giver of the money have been bound by 
such oaths, that, without imperilling his soul, he cannot 
disclose the transaction, anyone else may inform, and 
on establishing the truth of his accusation, receive a third 
part of the money so corruptly paid, the rest to go to 
the churches themselves, for the repair of the fabric or 
for the daily ministry. Remember the fate of Simon 
Magus. We have ordered that this decree be made 
known to the Senate and people by the Praefect of the 

[I think the early part of this letter gives us the clue 
to the pretext under which these simoniacal practices 
were introduced. It was usual for the Pope on his elec- 

1 ' Et quia omnia decet sub ratione moderari, nee possunt dici justa quae 

| nimia sunt, cum de Apostolic! consecratione Pontificis intentio fortasse per- 

i venerit, et ad Palatium nostrum producta fuerit altercatio populorum, sug- 

! gerentes (?) nobis intra tria millia solidorum, cum collectione cartarurn 

censemus accipere.' 

400 Cassiodori Variae. 

tion to give a certain sum of money to the poor. Then 
at a vehemently contested election certain of the voters 
perhaps especially the priests of the different tituli of 
Rome claimed to be distributors of the Papal bounty, 
a large part of which they no doubt kept for them- 


The same Rehearses the motives of the previous edict, and 
subject. ^i rec ^ g that both it and the Senatus Consulta having 
reference to the same subject [and framed two years 
previously], be engraved on marble tablets, and fixed 
up in a conspicuous place, before the Atrium of St. Peter 
the Apostle. 

AND 534). 

Keiease 'We cannot bear that there should be sadness in 
Roman Ro m s, ^ n head of the world. We hear with regret 

citizens from the Apostolic Pope John, and other nobles, that 
ofsedi- A and B, who are Romans, on a mere suspicion of 
tion. sedition are being macerated by so long imprisonment 
that the whole city mourns for them ; no gladness of a 
holyday and no respect for the Papal name 1 (which is 
most dear to us) availing to mitigate their confinement. 
This treatment of persons against whom no crime has 
been proved distresses us much, and we admonish your 
Greatness, wherever you may succeed in finding them, 
to set them free. If, confident in their innocence, they 
think that they have been unjustly tormented, we give 
them liberty to make their appeal to the laws. Judges 

1 ' Nee ulla quae apud nos est gratissima nominis sui dignitas sub- 
veniret.' I think sui must refer to the recently-mentioned Papa 

Book IX. Letters 16-18. 401 

were raised to their high estate, not to oppress but to 
defend the innocent. 

* Now let the Romans return to their ancient gladness ; 
nor let them think that any [rulers] please us but those 
who seek to act with fairness and moderation. Let 
them understand that our forefathers underwent labours 
and dangers that they might have rest; and that we 
are expending large sums in order that they may 
rejoice with garrulous exultation. For even if they > 

have before now suffered some rough and unjust treat- j/ 
ment, let them not believe that that is a thing to be * 
neglected by our Mildness. No ; for we give ourselves 
no rest, that they may enjoy secure peace and calm 
gladness. Let them understand at once that we can- 
not love the men whose excesses have made them terrible 
to our subjects. Whose favour do those men expect to 
win who have earned the dislike of their fellow-citizens ? 
They might have reaped a harvest of the public love, 
and instead thereof they have so acted that their names 
are justly held in execration.' 


[This edict is minutely examined by Dahn (' Konige 
der Germanen ' iv. 123-135). I have adopted his division 
of paragraphs, though rather disposed to think that the 
'De Donationibus ' should be broken up into two, to 
prevent counting the Epilogue as a section. See also 
Manso ('Geschichte der Ostrogothen' 405-415).] 

' Prologue. This edict is a general one. No names Edict 
are mentioned in it, and those who are conscious of 
innocence need take no offence at anything contained 

'For long an ominous whisper has reached our ears 
i that certain persons, .despising civilitas,affeci a life of 
i bea^tly^barbarism \ returning to the~wil(Tbeginningsl)f 

1 ' Affectare vivere belluina saevitia.' 

402 . Cassiodori Variae. 

society, and looking with a fierce hatred on all human 
laws. The present seems to us a fitting time for re- 
pressing these men, in order that we may be hunting^ 
down__ yice__ and immorality within the Republic at the 
same time that, with God's help, we are resisting her 
external _foes. Both are hurtful, both have to be re- 
pelled ; but the internal enemy is even more dangej^uis 
than the external. One, however, rests upon the other; 
and we shall more easily sweep down the armies of our 
enemies if we subdue under us the vices of the age. 
[This allusion to foreign enemies is perhaps explainey 
by the hint in Jordanes (' De Reb. Get.' 59) of threatened 
war with the Franks. But he gives us no sufficient 
indication of time to enable us to fix the date of the 

'I. Forcible Appropriation of Landed Property 1 
(Pervasio). This is a crime which is quite inconsis- 
tent with civilitaSy and we remit those who are guilty 
of it to the punishment 2 provided by a law of Divus 
Valentinianus [Valentinian III. Novell, xix. ' De Inva- 
soribus'], adding that if anyone is unable to pay the 
penalty therein provided he shall suffer banishment 
(deportatio). He ought to have been more chary of 
disobeying the laws if he had no means to pay the 
penalty. Judges who shrink from obeying this law, 
and allow the Pervasor to remain in possession of 
what he has forcibly annexed, shall lose their offices 
and be held liable to pay to our Treasury the same 
fine which might have been exacted from him. If the 
Pervasor sets the Judge's official staff (officium) at 
defiance, on the report of the Judge our Sajones 
will make him feel the weight of the royal vengeance 
who refused to obey the [humbler] Cognitor. 

1 ' Praedia urbana vel rustica.' 

2 The punishment consisted in loss of all claim to the property which 
was generally seized by someone who had some kind of ostensible claim 
to it and a penalty of equal value with that of the property wrongfully 


Book IX. Letter 18. 403 

'II. Affixing Titles to Property. [When land had 
from any cause become public property, the Emperor's 
officers used to affix tituli, to denote the fact and to 
warn off all other claimants. Powerful men who had 
dispossessed weaker claimants used to imitate this prac- 
tice, and are here forbidden to do so.] 

* This offence shall subject the perpetrator to the same 
penalties as pervasio. It is really a kind of sacrilege to 
try to add the majesty of the royal name to the weight 
of his own oppression. Costs are to be borne by the 
defeated claimant. 

'III. Suppression of Words in a Decree. Anyone 
obtaining a decree against an adversary is to be careful 
to suppress nothing in the copy which he serves upon 
him. If he does so, he shall lose all the benefits that he 
obtained. We wish to help honest men, not rogues. 

' IV. Seduction of a Married Woman. He who tries 
to interfere with the married rights of another, shall 
be punished by inability to contract a valid marriage 
himself. [This punishment of compulsory celibacy is, 
according to Dahn, derived neither from Koman nor 
German law, but is possibly due to Church influence.] 
The offender who has no hope of present or future 
matrimony 1 shall be punished by confiscation of half 
his property ; or, if a poor man, by banishment. 

'V. Adultery. All the statutes of the late King 
(divalis commonitio) in this matter are to be strictly 
observed. [Edict. Theodorici, 38, inflicted the penalty 
of death on both offenders and on the abettors of the 

'VI. Bigamy is to be punished with loss of all the 
offender's property. 

' VII. Concubinage. If a married man forms a con- 
nection of this kind with a free woman, she and all her 

1 ' Illis quos spes non habet praesentis conjugii vel futuri.' It is not 
easy to see how the Judge could ascertain whether a man belonged to this 
class or not. 

D d 2, 

404 Cassiodori Variae. 

children shall become the slaves of the injured wife. If 
with a woman who is a slave already, she shall be sub- 
jected to any revenge that the lawful wife likes to inflict 
upon her, short of blood-shedding 1 . 

' VIII. Donations are not to be extorted by terror, nor 
acquired by fraud, or as the price of immorality. Where 
a gift is bond fide, the document conveying it is to be 
drawn up with the strictness prescribed by Antiquity, 
in order to remove occasions of fraud. 

' IX. Magicians and other persons practising nefarious 
arts are to be punished by the severity of the laws. 
What madness to leave the Giver of life and seek to the 
Author of death ! Let the Judges be especially careful to 
avoid the contagion of these foul practices. 

'X. Violence Exercised towards the Weak. Let the 
condition of mediocrity be safe from the arrogance of 
the rich. Let the madness of bloodshed be avoided. To 
take the law into your own hands is to wage private 
war, especially in the case of those who are fortified 
by the authority of our tuitio. If anyone attempts 
with foul presumption to act contrary to these princi- 
ples, let him be considered a violator of our orders. 

'XI. Appeals are not to be made twice in the 
same cause. 

'XII. Epilogue. But lest, while touching on a 
few points, we should be thought not to wish the laws 
to be observed in other matters, we declare that all 
the edicts of ourself and of our lord and grandfather, 
which were confirmed by venerable deliberation 2 , and 
the whole body of decided law 3 , be adhered to with 
the utmost rigour. 

1 ' Quod si ad tale flagitium ancilla pervenerit, excepta poena sanguinis, 
matronal! subjaceat ultioni : ut illam patiatur judicem, quam formidare 
debuisset absentem.' These provisions are probably of Germanic origin. 

2 ' Quae sunt venerabili deliberatione firniata.' Is it possible that we 
have here a reference to a theoretical right of the Senate to concur in 
legislation ? 

3 ' Et usualia jura publica.' Dahn expands : 'All other juristic material, 

Book IX. Letters 18-20. 405 

'And these laws are so scrupulously guarded that 
our own oath is interposed for their defence. Why 
enlarge further? Let the usual rule of law and the 
honest intent of our precepts be everywhere observed.' 


' Good laws are called forth by evil manners. If no Promul- 
complaints were ever heard, the Prince might take ^f th^ 
holiday. Stirred up by many and frequent complaints Edict, 
of our people, we have drawn up certain regulations 
necessary for the Roman peace, in our edict which is 
divided into twelve chapters, after the manner of the 
civil law l . We do not thereby abrogate, but rather 
confirm, the previously existing body of law. 

'Let this edict be read in your splendid assembly, 
and exhibited for thirty days by the Praefect of the 
City in the most conspicuous places. Thus shall our 
civilitas be recognised, and truculent men lose their 
confidence. What insolent subjects 2 can indulge in 
violence when the Sovereign condenm~s] it ? Our armies 
fight that there may be peace at horned Lei^the Judges 
do their duty fearlessly, and avoid foul corruption. 5 ^ 


' It is vexatious that, though we appoint you year by year The same 
to your duties, and leave no district without its Judge, sub J ect - 
there is yet such tardiness in administering justice that 
suitors come by preference to our distant Court. 

all sources of law Roman leges and jus, and Gothic customary law the 
whole inheritance of the State in public and private law.' 

' Necessaria quaedam Romanae quieti edictali programmate duodecim 
capitibus sicut jus civile legitur institutum in aevum servanda conscripsi- 
mus, quae custodita residuum jus non debilitare, sed potius corroborare 

2 Evidently aimed at the Goths. 

406 Cassiodori Variae. 

( To take away all excuse from you, and relieve the 
necessity of our subjects, we have drawn up an edict 
which we desire you to exhibit for thirty days in the 
wonted manner at all places of public meeting.' 


Increase ' You who are called Fathers should be interested in 

rieg a of " a ^ that concerns the education of your sons. We hear by 

gramma- certain whisperings that the teachers of eloquence at 

Home are not receiving their proper reward, and that 

the sums appointed to be paid to the masters of schools 

are lessened by the haggling of some persons. 

'Grammar is the noble foundation of all literature, 
the glorious mother of eloquence. As a virtuous man 
is offended by any act of vice, as a musician is pained 
by a discordant note, so does the grammarian in a 
moment perceive a false concord. 

' The grammatical art is not used by barbarous kings : 
it abides peculiarly with legitimate sovereigns 1 . Other 
nations have arms : the lords of the Romans alone have 
eloquence. Hence sounds the trumpet for the legal fray 
in the Forum. Hence comes the eloquence of so many 
chiefs of the State. Hence, to say nothing more, even 
this discourse which is now addressed to you 2 . 

1 Wherefore let the teacher of grammar and of rhetoric, 
if he be found suitable for his work and obey the decrees 
of the Praefect of the City, be supported by your autho- 
rity, and suffer no diminution of his salary 3 . 

' To prevent his being dependent in any way on the 
caprice of his employer, let him receive half his salary 
at the end of half a year, and his annonae at the 

1 ' Hac non utuntur barbari reges : apud legales dominos manere cog- 
noscitur singularis.' 

2 ' Et, ut reliqua taceamus, hoc quod loquimur inde est.' 

3 ' Et semel Primi Ordinis vestri ac reliqui Senatus amplissimi auctori- 
tate finnatus.' What is the meaning of ' Primi Ordinis vestri ? * 

Book IX. Letters 21-22. 407 

customary times. If the person whose business it is 
to pay him neglects this order, he shall be charged 
interest on the arrears. 

'The Grammarian is a man to whom every hour 
unemployed is misery, and it is a shame that such a 
man should have to wait the caprice of a public func- 
tionary before he gets his pay. We provide for the 
salaries of the play-actors, who minister only to the 
amusement of the public; and how much more for 
these men, the moulders of the style and character 
of our youth! Therefore let them henceforward not 
have to try the philosophical problem of thinking 
about two things at once, but, with their minds 
at ease about their subsistence, devote themselves with 
all their vigour to the teaching of liberal arts.' 

AND CONSUL (533). 

[Flavius Theodorus Paulinus Junior was Consul with 
the Emperor Justinian in 534- This letter was writ- 
ten in Sept. 533, about thirteen months before the 
death of Athalaric. Paulinus was son of Venantius 
and grandson of Liberius.] 

' The absent from our Court need not fear that they Paulinus 
will be disregarded in the distribution of honours, 
especially when they are sprung from an illustrious 
stock, the offspring of the Senate. 

'In your family Rome recognises the descendants 
of her ancient heroes the Decii, who, in a great crisis, 
alone saved their country. 

'Take then for the twelfth Indiction the ensigns of 
the Consulship 1 . It is an arduous honour, but one which 
your family is well used to. The Fasti are studded with 

1 The twelfth Indiction began Sept. I, 533. The Consul would enter 
office Jan. I, 534. Was he designated when the great Imperial officers 
were appointed at the beginning of the Indiction ? 

408 Cassiodori Variae. 

its names, and nearly all the Senate is of kin to you. 
Still, presume not too much on the merits of your ances- 
tors, but rather seek to emulate their noble deeds.' 


On the ' Judge of our esteem for your honourable body, 
ship S of~ Conscript Fathers, when, without any hesitation, we 
Paulinus. a pp i n t your sons whom we have never seen to high 
office, because they are your sons. 

'We admire the Patrician Venantius, blessed as he 
has been with such an abundant progeny, and found 
equal to the weight of so many Consulships. His sons 
have been all temperate and lively ; worthy members of 
the same distinguished family. They have been trained 
in arms, their minds have been formed by letters, their 
bodies by the exercises of the gymnasium. They have 
learned to show constancy to their friends, loyalty to 
their lords ; and they have succeeded to the virtues of 
their ancestors, as they will to their patrimony. Wisely 
husbanding his own fortune, Venantius has been able 
to support the honour gratifying, but burdensome of 
seeing so many of his sons made Consuls. But this is 
an honour not strange to his family, sprung from the 
ancient Decii. His hall is full of laurelled Fasces, and 
in his line one might almost say that each one is born 
a Consular. 

' Favour our candidate then, Conscript Fathers, and 
cherish him with that care which the name of your 
body 1 signifies.' 




Praeto- t jf vou nac [ been hitherto an obscure person we might 
Praefect. feel some doubt how you would bear yourself in your 

1 Curia, from cura. 

Book IX. Letters 23-24. 409 

new office, but your long and glorious career under 
our grandfather relieves us from any such anxieties. 
His choice of you is a thing to be not discussed but 
reverently accepted. It was by him that we ourselves 
were chosen ; and the Divine favour so conspicuously 
followed him that no General whom he selected was 
other than victorious, no Judge whom he appointed 
was other than just. In short, one might almost deem 
him to have been endowed with the gift of prophecy. 

' In your early manhood he received you into the His 
office of Quaestor, and soon found you to be a con- 
scientious man, learned in the law beyond your 
years 1 . You were the chief ornament of your times, 
inasmuch as you, by your blameless service sustaining 
the weight of that royal intellect by all the force of 
your eloquence, enabled him, with his keen interest 
in all public affairs, to await the result with confidence. 
In you he possessed a counsellor pleasant *in the trans- 
action of business, rigid in his sense of justice, free 
from all taint of avarice. You never fixed a scan- 
dalous tariff for the sale of his benefits ; and thus you 
reaped your reward in a wealth of public opinion, not 
in gold. It was because that just Prince proved you 
to be averse from all these vices that he selected you 
for his glorious friendship. A wise judge, he threw 
upon you the weight of listening to the arguments of 
contending parties ; and so high was his opinion of 
your tried sagacity that he at once uttered your decision 
as the greatest benefit that he could confer on the liti- 
gants. How often did he rank you among the oldest 
chiefs of his Council ! How often was it seen that your 
young beginnings were more than a match for them, who 
had the experience of long years behind them! What 
he found to praise in you was your excellent disposi- 
tion, wide open for useful work, tight closed against 

1 ' Primaevum recipiens ad Quaestoris Officium, mox reperit conscientia 
praeditum, et legum eruditione maturum.' 

410 Cassiodori Variae. 

the vices of avarice. Whereas, for some reason, it is 
rare to find amongst men, the hand closed and justice 

His ca- ' Let us pass on to the dignity of Magister Officiorum, 
Master "which all men knew that you obtained, not from the 
of the reputation of wealth, but as a testimony to your charac- 
ter. In this place you were always ready to help the 
[successive] Quaestors ; for, when pure eloquence was 
required, the case was always put in your hands. The 
benignant Sovereign claimed from you the fulfilment 
of duties which he knew that he had not formally laid 
upon you ; and such was the favour that he had for 
you, while others laboured you received the reward of 
his abundant praises 1 . For under your administration 
no dignity kept its exact limits ; anything that was 
to be honestly done by all the chiefs of the State to- 
gether, you considered to be entrusted to your con- 
science for its performance. 

' No one found occasion to murmur anything to your 
disadvantage, though you had to bear all the weight 
of unpopularity which comes from the Sovereign's 
favour. The integrity of your life conquered those 
who longed to detract from your reputation, and your 
enemies were obliged to utter the praises which their 
hearts abhorred ; for even malice leaves manifest good- 
ness unattacked, lest it be itself exposed to general 

His 'To the Monarch you showed yourself a friendly 

friend- Minister and an intimate Noble 2 . For when he had 

ship for 

Theodo- laid aside the cares of State, he would seek in your 
conversation the opinions of wise men of old, that by 
his own deeds he might make himself equal to the 

1 ' Et quadam gratia praejudiciali vacabat alios laborare, ut te sententiae 
suae copiosa laude compleret.' One would have expected Cassiodorus to 
say, ' You had the special privilege of doing other people's work and being 
praised for it, while they enjoyed their leisure ;' but I hardly see how we 
can get this meaning out of ' vacabat alios laborare.' 

8 ' Egisti rerum domino judicem familiarem et internum procerem.' 

Book IX. Letter 2,4. 411 

ancients 1 . Into the courses of the stars, into the gulfs 
of the sea, into the marvels of springing fountains, 
this most acute questioner enquired, so that by his 
diligent investigations into the nature of things he 
seemed to be a Philosopher wearing the purple. 

' It were long to narrate all your merits in the past. 
Let us rather turn to the future, and show how the 
heir of Theodoric's Empire proposes to pay the debts 
of Theodoric. 

* Therefore, with the Divine help, we bestow on you 
from the twelfth Indiction [Sept. i, 533] the authority 
and insignia of Praetorian Praefect. Let the Provinces, 
which we know to have been hitherto wearied by the 
administration of dishonest men, fearlessly receive a 
Judge of tried integrity. 

'Though you have before you the example of your 
father's Praefecture 2 , renowned throughout the Italian 
world, we do not so much set before you either that 
or any other example, as your own past character, 
exhorting you to rule consistently with that. You 
have always been averse from bribery ; now earnestly 
help the victims of injustice. We have purposely de- 
layed your accession to this high office that you might 
be the more heartily welcomed by the people, who 
expected to see you clothed with it long ago. Dili- 
gently seek out anything belonging to the titles of the 
Praetorian Praefecture, of which it has been defrauded 
by the cupidity of others. We send you as a light 
into a dark chamber, and expect that your sagacity 
and loyalty will discover many hidden things. 

'We know that you will work not so much for the 
sake of honour as in order to satisfy your con- 

1 ' Nam cum esset publica cura vacuatus, sententias prudentum a tuis 
fabulis exigebat ; ut factis propriis se aequaret antiquis.' 

2 ' Quamvis habeas paternam Praefecturam, Italico orbe praedicatam.' 
! This is one of the many proofs that Senator (now first advanced to the 
1 office of Praefectus Praetorio) is the son of the Cassiodorus to whom the 

letter (i. 3) is addressed on his retirement from that office. 

412 Cassiodori Variae. 

science ; and work so done knows no limit to its ex- 


Eulogy "We have loaded Senator with our benefits, Conscript 
dorug on" Fathers, because he abounds in virtue, is rich in ex- 
his ap- cellence of character, and is already full of the highest 
mentas honours. But, in fact, we are his debtors. How shall 

. we re P av that eloquent tongue of his, with which he 
Praefect. set forth the deeds of the Prince, till he himself who 
had wrought them wondered at his story? In praising 
the reign of the wearer of the purple, he made it accept- 
able to your nation. For taxes may be paid to a 
tyrant; praise, such as this, is given only to a good 

His ' Not satisfied with extolling living Kings, from whom 

History ne m ig n ^ hope for a reward, he drew forth the Kings 
of the Goths from the dust of ages, showing that the 
Amal family had been royal for seventeen generations, 
and proved that the origin of the Gothic people belonged 
Roman history 1 , adornrnglftnTwhole subject with the 
flowef^oTilisTearning gathered from wide fields of lite- 

' In the early days of our reign what labour he gave 
to the settling of our affairs! He was alone sufficient 
for all. The duty of making public harangues, our 
own private counsels, required him. He laboured that 
the Empire might rest. 

1 'Tetendit se etiam in antiquam prosapiem nostram, lectione discens, 
quod vix majorum notitia cana retinebat. Iste Eeges Gothorum longa 
oblivione celatos, latibulo vetustatis eduxit. Iste Amalos cum generis 
sui claritate restituit, evidenter ostendens in decimam septimam pro- 
geniem stirpem nos habere regalem. Originem Gothicam historiam fecit 
esse Romanam, colligens quasi in unam coronam germen floridum quod 
per librorum campoa passim fuerat ante dispersum.' 

Book IX. Letter 25. 413 

' We found him Magister ; but he discharged the His 
duties of Quaestor, and willingly bestowed on us, the 
heir, the experience which he had gained in the counsels 
of our grandfather. 

' And not only so, he helped the beginning of our His 
reign both with his arms and his pen. For when the 
care of our shores 1 occupied our royal meditation, he 
suddenly emerged from the seclusion of his cabinet, 
boldly, like his ancestors, assumed the office of Gene- 
ral 2 , and triumphed by his character when there was 
no enemy to overcome. For he maintained the Gothic 
warriors 3 at his own charges, so that there should be 
no robbery of the Provincials on the one hand, no too 
heavy burden on the exchequer on the other. Thus 
was the soldier what he ought to be, the true defender, 
not the ravager of his country. Then when the time 
for victualling the ships was over, and the war was 
laid aside, he shone as an administrator rather than a 
warrior, healing, without injury to the litigants, the 
various suits which arose out of the sudden cessation 
of the eontracts 4 . 

' Such was the glory of the military command of a 
Metellus in Asia, of a Cato in Spain a glory far more 
durable than any that can be derived from the varying 
shock of war. 

' Yet with all these merits, how humble he has been, His 
how modest, how benevolent, how slow to wrath, how 
generous in the distribution of that which is his own, ter. 

1 Probably from some expected descent of the Vandals, in connection 
with the affair of Amalafrida. 

2 ' Par suis majoribus ducatum sumpsit intrepidus.' 

3 <Deputatos.' 

* A conjectural translation of a difficult sentence : ' Mox autem ut 
tempus clausit navium commeatum, bellique cura resoluta est, ingenium 
suum legum potius ductor exercuit : sanans sine damno litigantium quod 
ante sub pretio constabat esse laceratum.' I conjecture that by the sudden 
stoppage of the warlike preparations several of the contractors were in 
danger of being ruined, and there was a general disposition to repudiate all 

414 Cassiodori Variae. 

how slow to covet the property of others ! All these 
virtues have been consolidated by his reading of the 
Divine Book, the fear of God helping him to triumph 
over baser, human motives. Thus has he been rendered 
humble towards all, as one imbued with heavenly 

'Him therefore, Conscript Fathers, we make, under 
God's blessing, Praetorian Praefect from the twelfth In- 
diction [Sept. i, 533], that he may repress by his own 
loyalty the trafficking of knaves, and may use his power 
for the good of the Republic, bequeathing eternal renown 
to his posterity.' 







EMPEEOB (A.D. 534). 

'I HAVE hitherto forborne to distress you with the sad Associa- 
tidings of the death of my son of glorious memory, but 

now am able to mingle a joyful announcement with this had in 
mournful message. We have promoted to the sceptre " 

man allied to us by a fraternal tie, that he may wear 
the purple robes of his ancestors, and may cheer our own 
soul by his prudent counsels. AiVe are persuaded that 
you will give us your good wishes on this event, as we 
hope that every kind of prosperity may befall the king- 
dom of your Piety. The friendship of princes is always 
comely, but your friendship absolutely ennobles me, 
since that person is exalted in dignity who is united by 
friendship to your glory 1 . 

' Nam licet concordia Principum semper deceat, vestra tamen absolute 
1 me nobilitat ; quoniam ille redditur amplius excelsus, qui vestrae gloriae 
fuerit unanimiter conjunctus.' 

416 Cassiodori Variae. 

'As we cannot in the short space of a letter express 
all that we desire to say on such an occasion, we have 
entrusted certain verbal messages to the ambassadors 
who bear this epistle.' 


The same ' It is usual for newly-crowned Kings to signify their 
subject. access j on to the different nations round them. I, in 
making this communication to you, am greatly favoured 
by Providence, feeling secure of your favour, because I 
know that my most excellent Lady and Sister has 
already attained it. I feel confident that I shall justify 
the choice of one who shines in such a light of wisdom 
that she both governs her own kingdom with admirable 
forethought and keeps firmly the vows of friendship 
which she has plighted to her neighbours. Partner of 
her cares, I desire also to be a partner of her wisely- 
formed friendships, those especially which she has con- 
tracted with you, who have nothing like unto you in the 
whole world. This alliance is no new thing: if you will 
look back upon the deeds of our ancestors you will find 
that there is a custom which has obtained the force of a 
law, that the Amals should be friendly with the Empire. 
So old a friendship is likely to endure; and if, in 
obedience to it and to my Sister's choice, I have your 
love, I shall feel that I am indeed a King. 

* The ambassadors who have charge of this letter will 
further express my sentiments.' 


The same ' After the death of our son of blessed memory 1 our 
subject. j ove or ^ e common wea i overcame the yearnings of a 

1 ' Divae recordationis.' 

Book X. Letters 2-3. 417 

mother's heart and caused us to seek your prosperity 
rather than an opportunity to indulge in our own sor- 
row. We have considered by what solace we should 
strengthen ourselves for the cares of royalty. The 
same Providence which has deprived us of a son in the 
dawn of manhood, has reserved for us the affection of a 
brother in mature age. Under the Divine auspices we 
have chosen Theodahad l as the fortunate partner of our 
throne. We two, with conjoined counsels, shall now 
labour for the common welfare, two in our meditations, 
one in the action which results from them. The stars 
give one another mutual help in ruling the heavens, and 
God has bestowed on man two hands, two ears, two eyes, 
that each one of these members should assist the other. 

' Therefore exult, Conscript Fathers, and commend our Praises 
deed to the blessing of the Almighty. Our sharing our 
power with another is a pledge of its being wisely and 
gently exercised. By God's help we have opened our 
palace to a man of our own race, conspicuous by his 
illustrious position, who, born of the Amal stock, has a 
kingly dignity in all his actions, being patient in ad- 
versity, moderate in prosperity, and, most difficult of 
all kinds of government, long used to the government of 
himself. Moreover, he possesses that desirable quality, 
literary erudition, lending a grace to a nature originally 
praiseworthy. It is in books that the sage counsellor 
finds deeper wisdom, in books that the warrior learns how 
he may be strengthened by the courage of the soul, in 
books that the Sovereign discovers how he may weld 
nations together under his equal rule. In short, there is 
no condition in life the credit whereof is not augmented 
;by the glorious knowledge of literature. 

' Your new Sovereign is moreover learned in eccle- 
siastical lore, by which we are ever reminded of the 
jthings which make for our own true honour, right 
judgment, wise discretion, reverence for God, thought 

1 Is there any authority for the reading of Nivellius, * TheolaldumV 

E 6 

418 Cassiodori Variae. 

of the future judgment. For the remembrance that we 
shall one day stand at the bar to answer for ourselves 
compels us to follow the footprints of Justice. Thus 
does religious reading not only sharpen the intellect but 
ever tend to make men scrupulous in the performance of 
their duties. 

'Let me pass on to that most generous frugality of 
his private household * which procured the means of 
such abundance in his gifts, of such plenty at his ban- 
quets, that even the kingdom will not call for any new 
expenditure in this respect greater than the old. Gene- 
rous in his hospitality, most pitiful in his compassions, 
while he was thus spending much, his fortune, by a 
heavenly reward, was ever on the increase. 

' The wish of the people should coincide with our 
choice of such a man, who, reasonably spending his 
own goods, does not desire the goods of others 2 . For 
moderation in his own expenditure takes away from 
the Sovereign the temptation to transgress the precepts 
of justice and to abandon the golden mean. 

' Rejoice then, Conscript Fathers, and give thanks 
to the Most High, that I have chosen such a ruler, who 
will supplement my justice by the good deeds which 
spring from his own piety. For this man is both admo- 
nished by the virtue of his ancestors and powerfully 
stimulated by the example of his uncle Theodoric.' 



The same c We announce to you, Conscript Fathers, the Divine 
lu Jec ' favour which has been manifested unto us, in that our 

1 'Veniamus ad illam privatae Ecclesiae (?) largissimam frugalitatem. 
'Ecclesiae/ if it means here 'the Church/ seems to spoil the sense. Can 
Cassiodorus mean to compare the household of Theodahad to a 'private 

3 ' Talem universitas debuit optare, qualem nos probamur elegisse, qui ra- 
tionabiliter disponens propria, non appetat aliena.' And this of Theodahad ' 

Book X. Letter 4. 419 

sovereign Lady 1 , who is renowned throughout the whole 
world, has with generous affection made me partaker of 
her throne, so that she may not lack loyal support and I 
may be fittingly clothed with the purple of my ancestors. 

' I know that this elevation of mine was the object of 
the wishes of the community. Your whispers in my 
favour might have been a source of danger, but now 
your openly expressed acclamations are my proudest 
boast. You wished that God should bestow upon me 
this honour, to which I for my part should not have 
ventured to aspire. But if I have, as I trust I have, 
any influence with you, let me prevail upon you to join 
with me in perpetually hymning the glorious praises of 
our Lady and Sister. She has wished to strengthen the 
greatness of our Empire by associating me therein, even 
as the two eyes of a man harmoniously co-operate to- 
wards a single act of vision. Divine grace joins us 
together: our near relationship cements our friendship. 
Persons of diverse character may find it an arduous 
matter thus to work in common ; but, to those who 
resemble one another in the goodness of their intentions, 
he difficulty would rather be not to work in harmony. 
The man devoid of forethought may fear the changing 

his purposes ; but he who is really great in wisdom 
3agerly seeks wisdom in another. 

' But of all the gifts which with this regal dignity the 
pivine favour has bestowed upon me, none pleases me 
'nore than the fact that I should have been thus chosen 
|>y that wisest Lady who is herself a moral balance of 
(he utmost delicacy, and who made me first feel her 
Justice before advancing me to this high dignity. For, 
Is you know, she ordained that I should plead my 
jause against private persons in the common judgment- 
iall 2 . Oh wonderful nobility of her mind ! Oh admir- 

1 ' Dominam rerum.' 

1 2 ' Cujus prius ideo justitiam pertuli ut prius [posterius ?] ad ejus provec- 
onis gratiam pervenirem. Causas enim, ut scitis, jure communi nos fecit 
E 6 2 

420 Cassiodori Variae. 

able justice, which the world may well tell of! She 
hesitated not first to subject her own relation to the 
course of public justice, even him whom, a little after, 
she would raise above the laws themselves. She 
thoroughly searched the conscience of him to whom 
she was about to hand over the dignity of kingship, 
that she might be recognised as sovereign Lady of all, 
and that I, when tested, might be advanced by her to 
the throne. 

Praises ' When shall I be able to repay her for all these 
lasuen-" f avours : ner who, having reigned alone during the 
tha. minority of her son, now chooses me as the partner of 
her realm? In her is the glory of all kingdoms, the 
flower of all our family. All our splendour is derived from 
her, and she reflects a lustre not only on our ancestors, 
but on the whole human race. Her dutiful affection, her 
weight of character, who can set forth? The philoso- 
phers would learn new lessons if they knew her, and 
would acknowledge that their books fail to describe all 
her attributes. Acute she is in her powers of reasoning; 
but with royal taciturnity she knows how to veil her 
conclusions in secrecy. She is mistress of many lan- 
guages ; and her intellect, if suddenly tested, is found 
so ready for the trial that it scarcely seems like that 
of a mortal. In the Books of Kings the Queen of the 
South is said to have come to learn the wisdom of Solo- 
mon : but here a woman speaks, and Sovereigns listen 
to her with admiration. Infinite depths of meaning are 
fathomed by her in few words, and she, with utmost 
ease, expresses what others can only after long delibera- 
tion embody in language 1 . 

dicere cum privatis.' We have here, no doubt, an allusion to the punish- 
ment which, as we learn from Procopius, Amalasuentha inflicted on her 
cousin for his various acts of injustice towards his Tuscan neighbours. 

1 ' Et summa felicitate componitur quod ab aliis sub longa deliberatione 
componitur.' * Ab aliis' probably refers to Cassiodorus himself. The con- 
trast between his elaborate and diffuse rhetoric, and the few, terse, soon- 
moulded sentences of his mistress is very fairly drawn. 

Book X. Letters 4-5. 421 

'Happy the commonwealth which boasts the guidance 
of such a mistress. It was not enough that already 
liberty and convenience were combined for the multi- 
tude 1 : her merits have secured the fitting reverence for 
the person of the Sovereign. In obeying her we obey all 
the virtues. I, too, with such a counsellor, fear not the 
weight of the crown; and I know that whatever is 
strange to me in my new duties I shall learn from her 
as the safest of teachers. 

'Acknowledge, noble Sirs, that all my power of in- 
creased usefulness to the State comes from this our most 
wise Lady, from whom I may either gain wisdom by 
asking questions, or virtue by following her example. 

' Live happily : live in harmony by God's help, and 
emulate that grace of concord which you see prevailing 
between your Sovereigns.' 


' By my accession to the throne I have become lord of The fol- 
the whole nation and guardian of the general welfare. thTnew 
I therefore command that all who belong to my private Kin g . 
household shall vindicate their rights only in the courts justly. 
of law, and shall abstain from all high-handed modes of 
obtaining redress. Only that man must henceforward 
be called mine who can live quietly subject to the laws. 
My new dignity has changed my purpose ; and if before 
I have defended my rights with pertinacity, I shall 
now temper all my acts with clemency 3 ; since there is 
nothing exceptional about a Sovereign's household, but 

1 ' Minus fuit ut generalitas sub libertate serviret.' 

2 'Theodosio homini suo Theodahadus rex.' Does 'homo suus' mean 
: a member of his Comitatus ? We seem to have here an anticipation of the 

i'homagium' of later times. 
3 ' Mutavimus cum dignitate propositum, et si ante justa districte de- 
i fendimus, nunc clementer omnia mitigamus.' A pretty plain confession 
| of Tbeodahad's past wrong-doing, and one which was probably insisted 
upon by Amalasuentha in admitting him to a share in the kingship. 

422 Cassiodori Variae. 

wheresoever, by the grace of God, our rule extends, there, 
as we fully confess, is something which it is our duty 
to defend. Augment therefore my renown by your 
patience, and let me hear praises rather than complaints 
of the actions of my servants.' 



Patri- 'In conferring upon you the office of Quaestor we 
cms ap- } oo k .g rs f. character, and we find in you that love of 


Quaestor, justice which is all important in a representative of the 
Prince. Then we look at the qualities of your intellect^ 
and we find in you that flow of eloquence which among 
ajl mental accomplishments we value most highly. 
'What does it profit to be a philosopher, if one camiot 
worthily set forth the results of one's investigationsJJTo 
discover is natural to man ; but to set forth one's dis- 
^-Eoveries in noble language, that is indeed a desirable 
^/ gift. Therefore we bestow on you for this thirteenth 
Indiction 1 the fasces of the Quaestorship, desiring you 
to consecrate your time to the study of the laws and 
the responsa prudentum, and to spread abroad our fame 
by the eloquent manner in which you shall communicate 
our decrees to the Cities and Provinces under our sway, 
and speak in our name to the representatives of foreign 



The same 'After announcing to you our own accession, one of 

subject. our fi r gt cares was to choose a Judge whose style of 

speaking might dignify the State. Such a Judge have 

we found in Patricius (Patrician by his name already), 

whom we hereby appoint to the office of Quaestor. He 

1 534-535- As Athalaric died Oct. 2, 534, the appointment of Patricius 
cannot have taken place on the usual day, Sept. I . 

Book X. Letters 6-9. 423 

studied eloquence at Rome. Where could he have 
studied better? For while other parts of the world 
have their wine, their balm, their frankincense, which they 
can export, the peculiar product of Rome is eloquence. 

'Having thus learned his art, he practised it at the 
bar with singular moderation. No heat of strife hurried 
him into abuse of his competitors. Seeking only to win 
his client's cause, he calmly and courteously set forth 
that client's rights without sacrificing his own dignity 
of demeanour. 

'Thinking that this man has pleaded long enough, 
we now appoint that he shall sit as Judge, having made 
diligent enquiry as to his character. In this, and in all 
other matters, we wish to follow the example of the 
Emperors who have gone before us, in so far as they 
followed the paths of justice 1 .' 


' Delighting to receive from your Piety some of those Present 
treasures of which the heavenly bounty has made you i e Tfro 
partaker, we send the bearer of the present letter to Justinian 
receive those marbles and other necessaries which we 
formerly ordered Calogenitus to collect on our behalf. tlia - 
All our adornments, furnished by you, redound to your 
glory. For it is fitting that by your assistance should 
shine resplendent that Roman world which the love of 
your Serenity renders illustrious.' 


[On the same subject as the previous letter, and in The same 
nearly the same words. Calogenitus apparently is dead.] sub Ject. 

' We have directed the bearer of this letter to exhibit (?) 
those things for which Calogenitus was previously des- 

1 ' Velle nostrum antiquorum principum est voluntas, quos in tantum 
desideramus imitari quantum illi justitiam sunt secuti.' 

424 Cassiodori Variae. 

tined ; so that, although that person is withdrawn from 
this life, your benefits, by God's help, may still be 
brought unto us.' 


Saluta- 'We approach you with the language of veneration, 
Theo- because it is agreed on all hands that your virtues 
dora. increase more and more. Friendship exists not for those 
only who are in one another's presence, but also for the 
absent. Rendering you therefore the salutation of 
august reverence, I hope that our ambassadors, whom 
we have directed to the most clement and most glorious 
Emperor, will bring me news of your welfare. Your 
prosperity is as dear to me as my own ; and as I con- 
stantly pray for your safety, I cannot hear without plea- 
sure that my prayers have been answered.' 



Maximus ' It is the glory of a good Sovereign to confer office on 
ed P to m " the deserving descendants of illustrious families. Such 
office of are the Anicii, an ancient family, almost on an equality 
rius(Do- with princes 3 , from whom you are descended. Gladly 
mestico- would we decorate the descendants of the Marii and 

rum. '{} 

Corvini if time had permitted their progeny to survive 
to our own day. But it were inconsistent to regret the 

1 There is something in the tone of this letter which suggests that 
Theodora was known to be pregnant when it was written. 

2 This Maximus does not appear to be mentioned by Procopius. He 
may be the same Maximus who took refuge in one of the churches after 
Totila's capture of Rome in 546 (De Bello Gotthico iii. 20), and who was 
slain by order of Teias in 552 (Ibid. iv. 34) ; but that person was grand- 
son of an Emperor, and it seems hardly probable that Cassiodorus would 
have spared us such a detail in the pedigree of Theodahad's kinsman. 
We seem also to be entirely without information as to the Amal princess 
who was the bride of Maximus. 

3 ' Anicios quidem pene principibus pares aetas prisca genuit.' 

Book X. Letters 10-12. 425 

impossibility of enjoying this privilege if we neglected 
the opportunity which we do possess in your case. 

' Therefore we bestow upon you from this fourteenth 
Indiction 1 the office of Primicerius, which is also called 
Domesticatus. This office may appear somewhat less than 
you are entitled to by your pedigree, but you have re- 
received an honour which is greater than all the fasces 
in being permitted to marry a wife of our royal race, a 
distinction which you could not have hoped for even 
when you sat in the curule chair. Comport yourself now 
with mildness, patience, and moderation, that you may 
show yourself worthy of your affinity with us. Your 
ancestors have hitherto been praised, but they were 
never dignified with such an alliance. Your nobility 
has now reached a point beyond which it can climb no 
further. All that you do henceforward of a praise- 
worthy kind will but have the effect of rendering you 
more worthy of the matrimonial alliance which you 
have already achieved 2 .' 



'We do not think that the fact of a man's having The sam< 
received the Consulship early in life should shut him su Jec 
out from holding office of lower rank in his maturer 
years 3 . As the Tiber receives the water of smaller rivers 
which merge their names in his, so a man of Consular 
rank can serve the State in less conspicuous ways, yet 
still be Consular. Therefore we have thought fit to 
bestow on the Illustrious and Magnificent Patrician 
Maximus, the Primiceriatus which is also called Do- 
! mesticatus, from this fourteenth Indiction, that the 

1 535 to 536. 

1 'Laudati sunt hactenus parentes tui, sed tanta non sunt conjunctione 
i decorati. Nobilitas tua non est ultra quod crescat. Quicquid praeconia- 
I liter egeris, proprio matrimonio dignissimus aestimaris.' 

3 Flavius Anicius Maximus was Consul in 523. 


426 Cassiodori Variae. 

lowliness of the honour may be raised by the merit of 
the wearer. He is an Anicius, sprung from a family 
renowned throughout the whole world. He is also 
honoured with the affinity of our own illustrious race. 
Receive him, welcome him, rejoice at these nuptials, 
which bind me closer to you, now that you have in your 
ranks one whom I can truly call a relation.' 



[This letter may probably be referred to the Spring or 
Summer of 535. Theodahad, soon after the deposition 
or death of Amalasuentha, has apparently invited the 
Senate to Ravenna, an invitation which they have respect- 
fully declined. He chides their suspicions of him.] 
Sum- 'After we had dismissed the venerable Bishops who 

Kavenna. brought your message, without taking exception to your 
Suspi- requests, though there were some things blameworthy 
the Sena- among them, we received tidings that the City of Rome 
tors. was agitated by certain foolish anxieties, from which 
real evil would grow unless the suspicion which caused 
them could be laid to rest. 

* I fear that I cannot complain of " popular levity " if 
your illustrious body, which should set an example to 
all others, should give way to such fond imaginings. If 
Rome, which should govern the Provinces, be so foolish, 
what can we expect of them ? 

'Divine grace, however, prompts us both to pardon 
your faults and to grant your requests. We owe you 
nothing, and yet we pay you 1 ; but we trust to be 
rewarded by hearing not our own praises but yours. 
Put away these unworthy, these childish suspicions, and 
behave as becomes the fathers of the people. 

'In desiring your presence at our Court, we sought 

1 ' Nihil debemus et solvimus.' Have we here an echo of St. Augustine's 
thought, ' Keddis debita nulli debens ? ' 


Book X. Letters 13-14. 427 

not your vexation but your advantage. It is certainly 
a great privilege to see the face of the Sovereign, and 
we thought to bestow on you, for the advantage of the 
State, that which used to be counted as a reward. How- 
ever, not to deal harshly with you, we shall be satisfied 
with the attendance of certain individuals from your 
body, as occasion may require, so that on the one 
hand Rome may not be denuded of her citizens, and 
on the other that we may not lack prudent counsellors 
in our chamber. Now return to your old devotion, and 
serve us, not as a matter of fear, but of love. The rest 
shall the bearer of this letter explain unto you.' 


[The occasion of writing this letter, which we may 
perhaps refer to the early part of 535, is apparently that 
some Gothic troops have been sent to Rome, and the 
people have broken out into clamours against them, or 
petitioned for their removal.] 

' Your predecessors have always been distinguished by Dissen- 
the loyal love which they bore to the Chief of the State ; 

and it is only right that he [the Sovereign] who is citizens 
defended with so much toil, he, for whom, as the repre- an d 

sentative of public order, daily precautions are taken 1 
should in return love that people above all others whose 
loyalty gives him a right to rule the world 2 . 

' Oh ! let there be nothing in you in our days which 
may justly move our indignation. Still show forth your 
older loyalty. It is not fitting that the Roman people 
should be fickle, or crafty, or full of seditions. 

' Let no fond suspicions, no shadow of fear sway you. 
You have a Sovereign who only longs to find oppor- 
tunities to love you. Meet with hostile arms your ene- 
mies, not your own defenders. 

1 'Qui maximo labore defenditur,cujus per dies singulos civilitas custoditur.' 

2 * Ut illos diligat super omnia, per quos habere probatur universa.' 

428 Cassiodori Variae. 

1 You ought to have invited, not to have shut out the 
succour which we sent you. Evidently you have been 
misled by counsellors who care not for the public weal. 
Return to your own better minds. 

' Was it some new and strange nation whose faces for- 
sooth thus terrified you ? No : the very men whom hither- 
to you have called your kinsmen, the men who in their 
anxiety for your safety have left their homes and families 
in order to defend you. Strange return on your part for 
their devotion! 

' As for you, you should know this, that night and day 
our one ceaseless desire is to perfect, with God's help, 
the security which was fostered in the times of our 
relations [Theodoric and Amalasuentha]. Where, indeed, 
would our credit as a Sovereign be if anything happened 
to your hurt ? Dismiss all such thoughts from your minds. 
If any have been unjustly cast down, we will raise him 
up again. We have sent you some verbal messages by 
the bearer of this letter, and hope that from henceforth 
we may rely on your constant obedience.' 


Letter ( It is always a delight to us to have an opportunity 
duc?ion~ of directing our letters of salutation 1 to your Piety, 
for an since he is filled with happy joy who converses with you 


astb. with sincere heart. I therefore recommend to your Cle- 
mency the bearer of this letter, who comes on the affairs 
of the Church of Ravenna. There can be no doubt that 
if you grant his request you will earn a just reward.' 

Assur - OF ROME. 

ances of 

good-will. ( jt i s wor thy of a ruler to do good of his own freewill, 
concord, not under compulsion. By God's favour we can do 

' Salutiferos apices,' 

Book X. Letters 15-17. 429 

anything, but we choose to do only things that are 
praiseworthy. Recognise now, oh prudent counsellors, 
that clemency of mine which ye might always have 
reckoned upon. Ye feared that I was your enemy; 
far from that, I cannot even bear that ye should be 
racked by the fear of evil 1 . And therefore, though I 
change no purpose of mine, since I never had thoughts 
of evil towards you, I have ordained that A and B, the 
bearers of this letter, should take unto you the oaths 
which you solicited 2 . I do this thing for God's sake, not 
for man's ; for how could I, who have run through the 
story of ancient realms in Holy Writ, wish to do anything 
else but that which is well-pleasing to God, who will 
assuredly recompense me according to my works. Hence- 
forward, then, serve me loyally, and in the full security 
which you have thus acquired : yea, your love will be 
now the repayment of a debt rather than a freewill 


' Since your security is our highest ornament, and since The same 
our love wishes to remove every shade of anxiety from su Jec1 
your minds, we have ordered A and B to take oaths to 
you in our name, whereby you may know the mind of 
your King towards you. Though this act might seem 
not to consort with our dignity, we willingly perform it 
for your sakes, and add the sanction of an oath, though 
we have learned from the Sacred Scriptures that a mere 
promise ought to be kept. Now it is for you to show your 
devotion, and with assiduous prayers to implore of the 
Majesty on high that the tranquil times which we long 
that you may enjoy may be granted by the gift of 

1 ' Ecce nee sollicitos patimur, quibus infensi esse putabamur.' 

2 'Postulata siquidem sacramenta vobis, ab Illo atque Illo praestari 
nostra decrevit auctoritas.' 

430 Cassiodori Variae. 


A Gothic * Anxious that what we are devising for your safety 
s^ 011 ^ n t ^ e misinterpreted by bitter suspicion, we do 
you to wit that the army which is marching to Rome is 
intended for your defence, in order that they who covet 
your possessions may by Divine help be resisted by the 
arms of the Goths. If the shepherd is bo\md to watch 
over his flock, the father of the family to see that no 
crafty deceiver enters therein, with what anxious care 
ought not we to defend the City of Rome, whiph by 
universal consent is unequalled in the worl^. So 
precious a possession must not be staked upon any 
throw. But that the defence of the City may be in no 
wise burdensome to you, we have ordered that the 
soldiers shall pay at the ordinary market rate for the 
provisions which they require ; and we have desired 
Vacco, the steward of our house, to superintend these 
purchases. He is a man of valour and integrity, whose 
character will secure him the obedience of the troops, 
and enable him to prevent any excesses. 

' As for the soldiers, we have told them to take up their 
quarters in fitting places [outside the City ?], that with- 
out there may be armed defence, within for you, tranquil 
order 2 . 

yS ' God forbid that in our days that City should seem to 
'T be protected by walls, the very name of which hath been 
r\l of old a terror to the nations 3 . We hope for this from the 
7\ aid of Heaven, that she who hath always been free may 
I never be stained by the insult of any blockade V 

1 ' Qu& nos convenit cautela Romam defendere, quam constat in mundo 
simile nihil habere ? ' 

2 ' Quos tamen locis aptis praecipimus immorari, ut foris sit armata de- 
fensio, intus vobis tranquilla civilitas.' 

3 'Absit enim ut nostris temporibus Urbs ilia muris videatur protegi, 
quam constat gentibus vel sola opinione fuisse terrori.' 

* ' Ut quae semper fuit libera, nullius inclusionis decoloretur inju: 

Book X. Letters 18-19. 431 


' We thank the Divine Being, who loves to see Kings Embassy 
at peace with one another, that you expressed such joy at of Pet6r< 
our elevation to the throne. Continue to set to the world 
this example of benignity ; continue to show your in- 
terest in one who recommends himself by his pure 
affection for you. For you do not seek to pick shabby 
quarrels with other Sovereigns ; you do not delight in 
unjust contests, which are contrary to sound morality 1 , 
since you seek for nothing but what may increase the 
good opinion which men have of you. How could you 
throw away that peace which it is the glory of your 
Piety to have imposed even on angry nations 2 ? 

' Even you, glorious Sovereigns ! [Justinian and Theo- 
dora] gain somewhat when all other realms revere you. 
It is a common thing for the ruler to be praised in his 
own land, but to receive the unforced praise of foreign 
lands, that is indeed desirable. You are loved, most 
pious Emperor, in your own dominions ; but how much 
grander a thing to be yet more loved in the regions of 
Italy, from whence the glory of the Roman name was 
diffused over the whole world ! It behoves you therefore 
to continue that peaceful disposition which you showed 
towards us at the commencement of our reign. 

* We have desired the most blessed Pope and the most 
honourable Senate of the City of Rome to give their 
answers to the eloquent and worthy Peter, your ambas- 
sador, with as little delay as possible ; and we have 
joined with him that venerable person our ambassador 3 , 

1 ' Non enim rixas viles per regna requiritis : non vos injusta certamina 
1 quae sunt bonis moribus inimica, delectant.' No doubt this was meant 
j to be taken as a hint of the censure which it professes to deny. 

2 ' Pacem quam et iracundis gentibus consuevistis imponere.' An allu- 
sion, perhaps, to the peace concluded with Persia. 

3 The name of 'virum ilium venerabilem' is not given, but we learn 
| from Procopius (De Bello Gotthico i. 6) that it was Rusticus, a priest, a 

Roman, and an intimate friend of Theodahad. 

432 Cassiodori Variae. 

that you may know our mind from our own mes- 


Embassy ' I have received with thanks the earnestly-desired 
ticus? 8 " letters of your Piety, and reverently prize the report 
of your spoken words as better than all gifts. You 
exhort us first of all to impart to your hearing what- 
ever requests we wish to make to your triumphant 
lord and consort 2 . Backed by such patronage as yours, 
how can there be any doubt as to the success of our 
petitions? It is an addition to our joy that your Se- 
renity has chosen such a man for your ambassador, 
one whom it is equally fitting for your glory to 
send and for our obedience to receive 3 . There can 
be no doubt that it is by constant observation of 
your character that his own has become so excellent, 
since it is by good maxims that the mind of man is 
cleansed from impurity 4 . According to the warning 
of your Reverence we have given orders that both Pope 
and Senate shall give their answers to your messengers 
quickly, so that there may be no delay. 

Possible 'For moreover, concerning that person about whom 
to death* something came to our ears with tickling speech, know 
of Ama- that that has been ordained which we believed would 
tha. su it your intentions 5 ; for it is our desire that by the 

1 WifeofTlieodaliad. 

2 'Hortamini enim ut quidquid expetendum a triumphali principe 
domino jugali nostro (?) credimus vestris ante sensibus ingeramus.' It 
seems to me that the sense requires vestro instead of nostro, and I have 
translated accordingly. (Dahn also makes this correction.) 

3 'Et vestra decet obsequia retinere.' Here 'nostra' seems to give a 
better sense than 'vestra.' 

* ' Dubium enim non est illam mores dare cui observatur assidue, dum 
constat defaecari animum bonis praeceptionibus institutum.' Rather 
hazardous praise to address to a Theodora. 

5 ' Nam et de illsL persona, de qua 1 ad nos aliquid verbo titillante per- 
venit, hoc ordinatum esse cognoscite, quod vestris credidimus animis 

Book X. Letters 2,0-2,1. 433 

interposition of our good offices your will should be law 
as much in our kingdom as in your empire 1 . 

'We therefore inform you that we had caused our 
messenger [Rusticus the priest] to be despatched by the 
Pope before your ambassador could possibly have left 
Rome. So saluting you with all the veneration which 
is your due, we assign the office of ambassador to a man 
eminent both by his character and learning, and vene- 
rable by reason of his office ; since we believe that those 
persons are acceptable to you whom we have thought 
suitable to be entrusted with the Divine ministry.' 



1 Oh, wisest of Augustas, both I and my wedded lord 
earnestly desire your friendship. The love of so great ship. 

1 These mysterious sentences, according to Gibbon, cap. xli. n. 56 (fol- 
lowing Buat), refer to Amalasuentha, and thus lend probability to the story 
in the Anecdota of Procopius that Theodora, out of jealousy, intrigued with 
Theodahad to have Amalasuentha put to death. But whatever may be 
the truth of that story, this sentence can hardly by any possibility refer to 
it. For (i) it is clear that this letter was written at the same time as 
Theodahad's, which precedes it, therefore after the arrival of Peter in 
Italy. But Procopius is clear that Amalasuentha was put to death be- 
fore Peter had crossed the Hadriatic, whereas this event, whatever it 
be, is evidently a piece of news which Gudelina has to communicate to 
Theodora, (a) This letter, though purporting to be from Gudelina, is 
confessedly written by Cassiodorus, and published by him at the end of 
his official career. It is hardly conceivable that he would deliberately 
publish to the world his connection with the murder of Theodoric's 
daughter and his own friend and benefactress. It is remarkable, on the 
contrary, how complete (but for this passage) is the silence of the Variae 
as to Amalasuentha's deposition and death : as if Cassiodorus had said, 
' If you do anything to harm her, you may get other apologists for your 
deeds ; I will be no champion of such wickedness.' It is scarcely necessary 
to remark that there is nothing in the wording of the sentence *de ilia 
i persona,' &c. which makes it more applicable to a woman than to a man. 
I As Peter's embassy was ostensibly connected with ecclesiastical affairs, 
I there is perhaps an allusion in this sentence to some scheme of Theodora's 
! with reference to the Papacy. It is possible that she may have been 
| already working for the election of Vigilius to the chair of St. Peter, and 
therefore that he is meant by ' ilia persona.' 


434 Cassiodori Variae. 

a lady seems to raise me higher than royalty. Shed 
on us the lustre of your glory, for one light loses 
nothing by imparting some of its brilliancy to another. 
With affectionate presumption I commend myself to the 
favour of the Emperor and yourself, desiring that, as 
is fitting, there should be no discord between the two 
Roman realms V 


Entrea- ' Our own ambassadors, and that most excellent per- 
son Peter, whom your Piety despatched to us, will both 
have informed you how earnestly we desire concord 
with your august Serenity. We now send two 
more ambassadors charged with the same commission. 
We certainly with all sincerity plead for peace who 
have no cause of quarrel with you. Consider also, oh 
learned Sovereigns, and consult the archives of your 
great grandfather 3 , that you may see how large a part 
of their own rights your predecessors were willing to 
relinquish for the sake of an alliance with our an- 
cestors 4 . Think how fortunate you are in having that 
friendship willingly offered to you for which they had 
humbly to sue. Yet, we may say it without arrogance, 
we know ourselves to be better than those ancestors 
of ours with whom the treaty was made 5 . We send 

1 ' Nullam inter Romana regna decet esse discordiam.' 

2 This letter seems as if it was written on precisely the same occasion 
as x. 19. Again Peter is sent back, and with him a ' venerable man' to re- 
present Theodahad. We learn from Procopius (i. 6) that Theodahad, in his 
fear of war, recalled Peter when he had already got as far as Albano, and 
gave him another set of propositions for Justinian. It seems possible that 
these fresh letters (22 and 23) from Theodahad and his Queen were given 
him when he set out the second time. 

3 Zeno (not of course an ancestor in natural relationship, but predecessor 
in the third degree). 

4 'Considerate etiam, principes docti, et abavi vestri historica monu- 
menta recolite, quantum decessores vestri studuerint de suo jure relinquere 
ut eis parentum nostrorum foedera provenirent.' 

5 ' Nunc illi vestram gratiam ultro quaerunt, qui suis parentibus me- 

Book X. Letters 22-23. 435 

you on this embassy a venerable man, made illustrious 
by his priestly office, and conspicuous by the renown 
of his learning. We pray the Divine goodness to 
bring our wishes to pass ; and as not even a series 
of letters can contain all that we have to say, we 
have given some verbal messages to be conveyed to 
your sacred ears, that you may not be wearied by the 
reading of too diffuse a letter.' 


' We learn with satisfaction from that most eloquent The same 
man Peter, that what has happened in this State is 8ub J ect - 
acceptable to you 2 . You show your -love of justice 
when, all suspicion by God's providence having been 
wiped away, you desire that there should be lasting 
agreement between us. Let there then be definite pro- 
mises on both sides, and lasting concord as the result. 
We therefore send that venerable man to secure the 
peace of our most serene husband with yours in the 
sight of all men. If there be anything in the Emperor's 
terms so hard that it ought not to be imposed on us, 
we trust to your wise moderation to mitigate the same, 

liores se esse cognoscunt.' Dahn remarks that Theodahad's asserted 
superiority to Theodoric probably consisted in his philosophical culture. 

1 See note on the preceding letter. 

2 ' Ut per eum disceremus acceptum vobis esse quod in hac republica 
constat evenisse.' At first sight this seems to refer to the death of Ama- 
lasuentha or to the accession of Theodahad. Dahn thinks that those' 
events have been disposed of in previous letters. Perhaps it is a general 
expression for ' the whole course of recent events in Italy.' Though upon 
the whole rejecting the story of Theodora's complicity in the death of 
Amalasuentha, I am bound to admit that this passage lends a certain 
amount of probability to the charge. At the same time, the words in 
the next sentence, ' per divinam providentiam omni suspicione detersa/ 
are susceptible of an honourable meaning, even if the death of Ama- 
lasuentha be alluded to. ' You and your husband accused us of that 

I crime. Now by God's providence we have been able to show that we 
i were guiltless of it [that it was done without our privity by the rela- 
I tions of the three Gothic nobles whom she had put to death]. Nothing 
I therefore remains to hinder peace between us.' 

Ff 2 

436 Cassiodori Variae. 

that the love which we have begun to feel towards your 
kingdom be not chilled by harsh terms of peace. 

' Claim this palm of concord between the two States 
as your own especial crown, that as the Emperor is 
renowned for his successful wars, so you may receive 
the praises of all men for this accomplished peace. Let 
the bearer of these letters see you often and confi- 
dentially. We hope for just, not onerous, conditions of 
peace, although in truth nothing seems impossible to 
us if we know that it is asked for by such a glorious 
person as yourself.' 


The same A short letter of compliments to the Emperor, and 
subject. earnes t desire for the preservation of peace. Peter and 
1 ille vir venerabilis ' are still the messengers. 


The same 'The august page written by your Serenity, and 

subject, bought t o us by the venerable presbyter Heracleanus, 

has gleamed upon us, bringing us the grace of your 

salutation. Oh, what a great benefit for us is this sweet 

converse with so mighty a prince ! 

' May we ever hear of your safety, and of the increase 
of the happiness of your kingdom. We have no other 
wish but this. According to your desire we have 
addressed letters to the Pope of the City of Rome 2 , 
telling him to reply to the letter brought by the present 
messenger with the least possible delay, since anyone 

1 Apparently sent at the same time as the two preceding letters. 

2 Negotiations were evidently still going on between the Emperor and 
the Pope, probably with reference to the election of Anthimus, who, 
though accused of Monophysitism, had been made Patriarch of Constan- 
tinople in 535 by Theodora's influence, and whom the Pope apparently 
refused to recognise. He was afterwards deposed by Pope Agapetus when 
he visited Constantinople. 

Book X. Letters 24-26. 437 

who comes from you should be attended to with utmost 
celerity. We hope for many future opportunities of 
thus obeying your desires and earning your love in 


' Richer than all other gifts bestowed by your Se- A monas- 
renity is this, when you exhort us to do that which will h^vHy 
profit for our own salvation and recommend us to the taxed. 
Divine Power. We hear that it has been brought to the 
knowledge of your Glory that a monastery of God's 
servants is too heavily oppressed with tribute, and we 
point out that this is owing to an inundation which has 
smitten their land with the curse of barrenness. How- 
ever, we have given orders to the most eminent Senator 1 
to appoint a careful inspector to visit the farm in ques- 
tion, weigh the matter carefully, and make such reason- 
able reduction as may leave a sufficient profit to the 
owners of the soil. We consider that anything which 
we thus concede to the desire of your Mildness will 
be to us the most precious of all gains. 

* In the matter of Veranilda, too, about which your Alleged 
Serenity has deigned to admonish me, though it hap- f S es 
pened long ago under the reign of my relations, I convert 
thought it right to make good her loss by my 

generosity, that she might not repent her change of ism - 
religion 2 . For seeing that the Deity suffers many 
religions, we should not seek to impose one on all 
our subjects. He who tries to do otherwise flies in 
the face of the Divine commands. Your Piety, there- 
fore, fittingly invites me to these acts of obedience to 

1 Cassiodorus. 

2 Apparently Veranilda had in the reign of Theodoric become a convert 
from Arianism to Orthodoxy, and had suffered some pecuniary losses in 
consequence, which Theodahad now proposes to make up to her. See 
Dahn, Konige der Germanen iii. 199, n. 4. 

438 Cassiodori Variae. 



Com dis- ' In succouring his subjects, the payers of tribute, 
in LfT 18 ^ e ^-* n does n t seem to give, so much as to restore 
ria and what he has received. The cultivator of the soil is 
fcia " abandoned to future famine, unless he is helped in the 
day of his necessity. Therefore let the corn which has 
been received by the government from industrious Li- 
guria and loyal Venetia, though it has been taken from 
their fields, be born again to them in our granaries, 
since it is too outrageous that the cultivator should 
starve while our barns are full. Therefore let your 
Illustrious Greatness (whose office is said to have been 
instituted for the express purpose of feeding the people 
from the accumulated stores of the State 2 ) sell to the 
impoverished Ligurians the third part of the grain 
warehoused at Ticinum and Dertona, at the rate of 
25 modii to the solidus 3 . Similarly distribute the third 
part of the stores in the warehouses of Tarvisium 
and Tridentum to the Venetians, at the same rate, that 
pitying Heaven, seeing men's bounty to one another, 
may give us fruitful harvests. Take care that this 
distribution is so managed that our indulgence shall 
reach those persons chiefly, who are least able to depend 
on their own resources.' 



Grant ' The King ought to confirm whatever has been wisely 
or ^ ere( ^ ^7 ^ ne Judges, especially those who are known 
to be above suspicion of bribery. 

1 Cassiodorus. 

2 ' Quorum dignitas ad hoc legitur instituta, ut de repositis copiis popu- 
lum saturare possetis.' Probably an allusion to Joseph, whom Cassiodorus 
celebrates as the first Praefectus Praetorio. 

3 Six bushels for twelve shillings, or sixteen shillings a quarter. 
* Cassiodorus. 

Book X. Letters 27-28. 439 

c Therefore we confirm in their offices 1 the stewards 2 , 
purveyors 3 of wheat, wine, and cheese, the meat sellers, 
vintners, farmers of the revenue derived from granaries 
and taverns 4 , hay merchants, and general provision 
dealers 5 , who belong to the City of Rome or the royal 
residence of Ravenna 6 ; also those who hold public 
charges of this description along the river banks of 
Ticinum or Placentia 7 , or in any other places, whom 
we know to have been appointed by you, whose 
judgments we willingly embrace and desire to hold fast 
exactly as if they were our own; nor will we allow 
the malice of any to prevail against those persons who 
by your choice have assumed these public functions. 
If therefore they acquit themselves to your satisfaction, 
they shall hold their office for five years without fear 
of disturbance during that period. On account of the 
present barrenness of the land you should cause them 
to fix such prices for the different kinds of grain as 
shall seem reasonable to your Eminence 8 . 

* As human ambition requires to be checked by fear of 
punishment, anyone who by petitioning or canvassing 
seeks to obtain the place of one of these lawfully 
appointed purveyors shall be visited with a fine of 
3olbs. of gold 9 , to be exacted from him by you. If 
unable to pay this fine he shall suffer corporal punish- 
ment and be noted as infamous. Nothing can be 
considered safe or stable if men are to be perpetually 
exposed to the snares of envious competitors like these. 

1 The sentence is so long that Cassiodorus seems to have forgotten its 
construction, and these important words are in fact omitted. 

'Arcarios.' 3 ' Prorogatores.' 

' Capitularies horreariorum et tabernariorum.' 


' Mansionem Eavennatem.' 

' Ripam Ticinensem vel Placentinam.' 

Here follows, ' Ut hi quibus commissum est exercere singulos apparatus 
de injusto gravamine non querantur,' which I do not venture to translate, 
as I am not sure whether it relates to buyers or sellers. 
9 1,200. 

440 Cassiodori Variae. 

Your Greatness is to bring this law to the knowledge of 
all men.' 

[It is clear that this letter refers to an office greatly 
coveted, and one in which there was a possibility of 
making great gains, but also one in which, owing to the 
regulation of prices by the government, there might be 
temporary losses ; to guard against which it was con- 
sidered reasonable that the holder should be guaranteed 
in his office for five years. 

The office is the supply of the staple articles of food 
to the King's household at Borne and Ravenna, and to 
the garrisons probably of Pavia and Piacenza and the 
neighbouring country. Did this right carry with it an 
absolute monopoly as far as the other inhabitants of 
those places are concerned ? This seems probable ; but 
I do not know that we can positively state it. 

The term used, ' Arcarii,' is applied in the Theodosian 
Code (xii. 6, 14) to the bailiffs by whom the rents on 
the Imperial domain were collected. Here it has mani- 
festly altered its meaning.] 


An old 'Your noble birth and tried fidelity induced us to 
receives comm ^ to you the government of the City of Ticinum, 
furlough which you had defended in war : but now, being deluged 
visit to with a sudden inundation of muddy gout 1 , you ask 
thebaths i eave to resort to the waters of Bormio, which by 
m io. their drying influences are of healing power for this 

'We permit, nay earnestly encourage, you to under- 
take this journey; for we cannot bear that one of our 
warriors should fall a victim to the tyranny of this 
cruel disease, which, like the Barbarians, when it has 
once claimed by force hospitality in the owner's body, 

1 ' Limosae podagrae subita inundatione complutus.' 

Book X. Letter 29. 441 

ever after defends its right thereto by cruelty. It seeks 
out all the hollow places of the system, makes stones 
out of its moisture, and deposits them there, destroy- 
ing all the beautiful arrangements of Nature for free 
and easy movement. It loosens what ought to be tight, 
it contracts the nerves, and so shortens the limbs that 
a tall man finds all the comeliness of his stature taken 
from him while he is still unmutilated. It is in truth 
a living death; and when the excruciating torment is 
gone, it leaves an almost worse legacy behind it in- 
ability to move. Even debtors in the torture chamber 
have the weights sometimes removed from their feet; 
but this cruel malady, when it has once taken hold of 
a man, seems never to relinquish possession. A disease 
of this kind, bringing with it weakness and helpless- 
ness, is especially terrible to a warrior, who after over- 
coming the foes that came against him in battle, finds 
himself thus struck down by an enemy within. 

'Go then, in Heaven's name, to the healing springs. 
We cannot bear the thought that you the warrior should 
be carried on men's shoulders, instead of bestriding your 
war-horse. We have painted all these evils in some- 
what exaggerated style in order to stir you up to seek 
an early cure. 

' Use then these waters, soothing to the taste, and in 
the hot bath able to dry up the gouty humours. God 
has given us this ally wherewith to overcome that 
enemy of the human race ; and under its double influ- 
ence, within and without, the malady, which ten years 
of regimen and endless medicines cannot lessen, is 
put to flight by remedies which are in themselves de- 

* May God grant that this far-famed place may restore 
your body to health V 

1 The nature-heated springs of Bonnio are still resorted to; and some 
| pedestrian travellers, who have crossed the Stelvio from Trafoi, have a 
grateful remembrance of their soothing waters. 

442 Cassiodori Variae. 



The ele- * We regret to learn from your report that the brazen 
the Via, in elephants placed in the Via Sacra 1 (so called from the 
Sacra, many superstitions to which it was consecrated of old) 
are falling into ruins. 

' This is to be much regretted, that whereas these 
animals live in the flesh more than a thousand years, 
their brazen effigies should be so soon crumbling away. 
See therefore that their gaping limbs be strengthened by 
iron hooks, and that their drooping bellies be fortified 
by masonry placed underneath them. 

Natural 'The living elephant, when it is prostrate on the 

thfele- ground, as it often is when helping men to fell trees, 

phant. cannot get up again unaided. This is because it has 

no joints in its feet ; and accordingly you see numbers 

of them lying as if dead till men come to help them up 

again. Thus this creature, so terrible by its size, is really 

not equally endowed by Nature with the tiny ant. 

' That the elephant surpasses all other animals in 
intelligence is proved by the adoration which it renders 
to Him whom it understands to be the Almighty Ruler 
of all. Moreover it pays to good princes a homage which 
it refuses to tyrants. 

' It uses its proboscis 2 , that nosed hand which Nature 
has given it to compensate for its very short neck, for 
the benefit of its master, accepting the presents which 
will be profitable to him. It always walks cautiously, 
mindful of that fatal fall [into the hunter's pit] which 
was the beginning of its captivity. At its master's bid- 
ding it exhales its breath, which is said to be a remedy 
for the human headache. 

1 I have not found any other mention of these brazen elephants. Nardini 
(Roma Antica i. 295) cites this passage, and illustrates it by quotations 
from Suetonius, Pliny, and the Historia Augusta, showing that it was the 
custom to erect to Emperors and Empresses statues of elephants drawing 
triumphal chariots. 

2 Cassiodorus calls it ' promuscis.' 

Book X. Letter 30. 443 

* When it comes to water it sucks up in its trunk a 
vast quantity, which at the word of command it squirts 
forth like a shower. If anyone have treated it with con- 
tempt, it pours forth such a stream of dirty water over 
him that one would think a river had entered his house. 
For this beast has a wonderfully long memory, both of 
injury and of kindness. Its eyes are small, but move 
solemnly. There is a sort of kingly dignity in its 
appearance, and while it recognises with pleasure all 
that is honourable, it seems to despise scurrilous jests. 
Its skin is furrowed by deep channels, like that of the 
victims of the foreign disease named after it 1 , elephanti- 
asis. It is on account of the impenetrability of this hide 
that the Persian Kings used the elephant in war. 

'It is most desirable that we should preserve the 
images of these creatures, and that our citizens should 
thus be familiarised with the sight of the denizens of 
foreign lands. Do not therefore permit them to perish, 
since it is for the glory of Home to collect all specimens 
of the process by which the art of workmen hath imi- 
tated the productions of wealthy Nature in all parts of 
the world.' 

[This letter traverses the same ground as Pliny's 
'Historia Naturalis' viii. i-n, but supplies some new 
facts. Pliny makes the elephant live to the age of 300 
or even 300 years. Cassiodorus boldly says * more than 
a thousand.' The curious story of the elephant's religion 
is given with more detail by Pliny ; but he knows nothing 
of the political sagacity which enables it to discern 
between a good king and a tyrant. Pliny mentions the 
fact that the elephant's breath is a cure for headache, but 
adds, ' especially if he sneeze V 

Upon the whole, though Cassiodorus had probably 
read Pliny's description, his own must be pronounced 

1 ' A qua transportaneorum (?) nefanda passio nomen accepit.' 

2 Hist. Nat. xxviii. 8. 

444 Cassiodori Variae. 

This marvellous letter is the last that we have, written 
in the name of Theodahad.] 


Eleva- c Though every advance in station is to be accounted 
among the good gifts of the Divinity, especially is the 
kingly dignity to be looked upon as coming by His 
ordinance through Whom kings reign and subjects obey. 
Wherefore, with liveliest satisfaction returning thanks 
to our Maker Christ, we inform you that our kinsmen 2 
the Goths, amid a fence of circling swords, raising 
us in ancestral fashion upon a shield, have by Divine 
guidance bestowed on us the kingly dignity, thus mak- 
ing arms the emblem of honour to one who has earned 
all his renown in war. For know that not in the 
corner of a presence-chamber, but in wide-spreading 
Q plains I have been chosen King ; and that not the dainty 
v i discourse of flatterers, but the blare of trumpets an- 
vi nounced my elevation, that the Gothic people, roused by 
' the sound to a kindling of their inborn valour, might 
once more gaze upon a Soldier King. 

' Too long indeed have these brave men, bred up amid 
the shock of battle, borne with a Sovereign who was 
untried in war ; too long have they laboured to uphold 
his dubious fame, though they might presume upon their 
own well-known valour 3 . For it is inevitable that the 
character of the ruler should in some degree influence 
the reputation of the whole people. 

' But, as ye have heard, called forth by the dangers of 
my kindred, I was ready to undergo with them one com- 
mon fate ; but they would not suffer me to continue a 

1 Spelt * Vitigis ' by Cassiodorus. 

2 ' Parentes nostros Gothos.' 

3 ' Ut de ejus fama laboraret quamvis de propria virtute praesumeret. 
I have translated as if laboraret' and 'praesumeret' were in the plural, 
and even so, find it difficult to get a satisfactory meaning out of these 

Book X. Letters 31-32. 445 

mere General, feeling that they needed a veteran King. 
Wherefore now accept first the Divine decree, and then 
the judgment of the Goths, since it is your unanimous 
wish which makes me King. Lay aside then the fear of 
disaster : cast off the suspicion of further losses : fear no 
rude strokes of fate under our dominion. We who have I 
ridden so oft to war have learned to love valiant men. 
Associated in all things with your labours, I have 
been myself a witness to the brave deeds of each 
of you, and need no other evidence of your worth. 
By no fraudulent variations between my public and 
private negotiations shall the might of the Gothic arms 
be broken 1 . Everything that we do shall have respect 
to the welfare of our whole people : in private we will 
not even love. We promise to follow those courses which 
shall adorn the royal name. Finally, we undertake that 
our rule shall in all things be such as becomes a Gothic 
King, the successor of the renowned Theodoric that man 
who was so rarely and so nobly qualified by Nature for 
the cares of royalty ; that man of whom it may be truly 
said that every other Sovereign is illustrious in so far as 
he loves his counsels. Therefore he who succeeds in 
imitating the deeds of Theodoric ought to be considered 
as belonging to his line. Thus then, manifest your 
anxious care for the welfare of our kingdom, while your 
hearts are at ease, through God's goodness, as to OUP- 
internal security.' 


* How much, oh most clement Emperor, we long for the Over- 
sweetness of your favour, may be understood from this J^,* 
fact alone, that after such serious injuries and such with the 
grievous bloodshed as you have inflicted on us, we still 
come forward to ask for peace with you, as if none of your 

1 'Anna Gothorum nulla promissionum mearum varietate frangenda 
sunt.' An evident allusion to the treacherous and unpatriotic diplomacy 
of Theodahad, as described by Procopius. 

446 Cassiodori Variae. 

servants had ever wronged us. We have suffered such 
things as might move the indignation even of our 
enemies, who must know that they have attacked us 
without our guilt, have hated us without our fault, have 
despoiled us without our owing them anything. Nor 
can it be said that the blow has been so slight that no 
account need be taken of it, since it has been struck not 
in the Provinces alone but in Rome [or Italy] herself, the 
Capital of the World 1 . Think how great must be our 
pain at this, which nevertheless we banish from me- 
mory in order that we may obtain justice at your hands. 
Such disturbance has been made as the whole world 
speaks of 2 [and condemns], and it deserves to be so 
composed by you that all men may admire your spirit 
of equity. 

'If vengeance on King Theodahad be the thing 
required, I [who have put him to death] merit your 
love. If you desire to honour the blessed memory of 
Queen Amalasuentha, think of her daughter 3 , who has 
reached [by our means] that royal station to which your 
soldiers might well have striven to exalt her, in order 
that all the nations might see how faithful you remained 
to the old friendship. 

'This fact too ought to influence you, that by the 
ordering of Providence we were permitted to make your 
acquaintance before our accession to the throne, that the 
remembrance of our favourable reception at your Court, 
and the sight of your person in that splendid position, 
might move us to love and reverence. 

' Even now you can undo all that has been misdone, 
since the continual expectation of favours to come, makes 

1 <Non in provinciis tantum sed in ipso rerum capite probatur in- 

a 'Talis res effecta est quam mundus loquatur.' The commentator 
Fornerius absurdly understands this of Mundus, the general of Justinian 
in Dalmatia, who had already fallen in battle before the accession of 

3 Matasuentha, now wife of Witigis. 

Book X. Letters 32-33. 447 

perseverance in affection easy l . Therefore, soliciting your 
Clemency with all due respect, we inform you that we 
have appointed A and B our ambassadors to the Wisdom 
of your Serenity, that you may, according to your custom, 
duly weigh all these considerations, that the two Repub- 
lics may persevere in restored harmony, and that all 
which hath been settled in past times by Sovereigns of 
blessed memory may, by God's help, be increased and 
made more prosperous under your dominion. 

'The rest of their commission will be more fully 
explained to your Serenity by the aforesaid ambas- 


' In sending our two ambassadors to the most serene Embassy 
Emperor, it is fitting also to send letters of salutation 2 
to your Greatness. May your prudence support our 
reasonable requests with the Emperor. You can easily 
correct those things [the war against the Gothic people] 
which you ought never to have allowed to take place ; 
and all things can now be arranged in the most friendly 
manner, since a reconciliation between men who have 
fought out their quarrel is often the surest ground of 
friendship. An unknown man might possibly have been 
shunned by you ; but I, who have seen the magnificence 
of your Republic, who have known the hearts of so 
many of your noble statesmen, have no desire to quarrel 
with your most pious Emperor, if he will only cherish 
thoughts of justice towards me. If another [Theodahad] 
deserved the anger of the Emperor, I ought to be looked 
upon with the highest favour, who have executed ven- 
geance on that hateful predecessor. I have earned your 

1 ' Quando non est difficile ilium in affectu retinere, qui gratiam constat 
desideranter expetere.' Very nearly, but not quite, the modern proverb 
which says that gratitude is c a lively sense of favours to come.' 

2 'Salutiferos apices.' See x. 15. 

448 Cassiodori Variae. 

intentions into effect, and therefore I deserve reward, 
not punishment. Let all hatred be buried in the grave 
of the sinner ; and even if you think nothing of our 
deservings, think of the liberty of the Romans, which 
is everywhere suffering amid the clash of arms. A few 
words to a man of your wisdom are sufficient/ 


The same If we owe honour to Priests even when unknown to 
lu Jec us, how much more so to you whom we have seen and 
spoken to, and with whom we have had frequent and 
familiar intercourse. 

'By the ambassadors who are bearing our letters 
to the most serene Emperor we send a message of 
reverence to your Holiness, hoping that you will pray 
for us and set them forward on their journey with all 
necessary assistance, since you are bound to wish well 
to those whom you know to be united to you by the 
ties of religion/ 


The same ' We are sending two ambassadors to the most serene 
subject. Emperor, who will salute your Greatness. We earnestly 

hope that your Excellency will speed them on their 




' THE necessity for a Preface often arises from some 
contrariety in an Author's position which prevents him 
from writing as he would wish to write. It is admitted 
that it is not fair to expect the same degree of ex- 
cellence from a busy man which we may reasonably 
look for in a man of leisure. But a man in high 
official position cannot be a man of leisure. It would 
be the highest disgrace to him if he were, since even 
his so-called privy-chamber 1 resounds with the noise 
of clamorous litigants. 

' I can well understand that a man of few occupations 
will object against me, here that a word has been thrown 
out with ill-considered haste, there that a commonplace 
sentiment has not been dressed up in sufficiently or- 
namental language, or there that I have not complied 
with the rules of the Ancients by making my persons 
speak "in character." But the busy man, hurried from 
one cause to another, and constantly under the necessity 
of dictating to one man and replying to another, will 
not make these objections, because the consciousness 
of his own literary perils will make him tender in 
his judgments. And yet there is something even in the 

1 'Secretum.' 


pressure of business which sometimes promotes brisk- 
ness of mind, since the art of speaking is one which 
is placed very much in our own power 1 . 

'If anyone objects that I, placed in the height of the 
Praetorian dignity, should have dictated so few deci- 
sions of a legal kind, let him know that this was the 
result of my associating with myself that most prudent 
man Felix 2 , whose advice I have followed in every 
case. He is a man of absolute purity of character, 
of surpassing knowledge of the law, of distinguished 
accuracy of speech ; a young man with the gravity of 
age, a sweet pleader, a measured orator; one who by 
his graceful discharge of his official duties has earned 
the favourable opinion of the public. 

'Had it not been for his help, overwhelmed by so 
great a multitude of causes, I must either have been 
found unequal to the burden, or else perchance have 
seemed arrogant [in my disregard of previously settled 
decisions]. But, what was more important still, relieved 
by his labours from this duty, I was able to give such 
attention to the higher affairs of the State, that I could 
not fail to win approbation even in those arduous duties. 

'I have therefore subjoined two books, in which I 
myself speak in my capacity as Praefect, to the ten in 
which I have spoken by the mouth of the King ; for it 
seemed absurd to me to be silent in my newly-acquired 
dignity, who had so often spoken on behalf of others. 

' Then, after these twelve books had been brought to 
their long-desired end, my friends compelled me to 
discuss the substance and the powers of the Soul, that 

1 Here follows a sentence which I do not understand : ' Eemanet itaque 
ad excusandum brevitas insperata librorum, quam nemo purgat diutius, nisi 
qui bene creditur esse dicturus.' 

2 This can hardly be the Consul of A.D. 511, since he is called in the 
next sentence 'senilis juvenis.' 


I might say something about that faculty through which 
I had already said so much 1 . 

' Now then, learned men ! view these letters with in- 
dulgence. If there be no eloquence in them, attribute 
it to my many occupations, which have prevented my 
reading as much as I would gladly have done. Cicero, 
that fountain of eloquence, when he was one day 
asked to speak, excused himself on the ground that 
he had read nothing the day before. The barn must 
be constantly refilled if it is not to become empty. All 
that is good in our minds is the fruit of study, and 
soon withers if it be separated from reading, which 
is the parent stem. Great indulgence therefore should 
be shown to us if we have often had to write when 
we were busy, to be read by others when we had 
no leisure to read, ourselves. And now enough of ex- 
cuses, leaJLtoo elaborate a defejice^s^ojilduJa.t-hpr jnjnra 

1 ' De Animae substantial vel de virtutibus ejus amici me disserere co- 
egerunt : ut per quam multa diximus, de ipsa quoque dicere videremur." 

G g 



OF THE CITY OF KOME (A.D. 534) l . 

assio- *!F I can only be sure that my advancement is ac- 
hiTpro^ ce ptable to you, Conscript Fathers, I shall not doubt of 
motion its being approved by God and popular with all good 

Praefec- men - 

ture. tft i s j n the nature of things to love a col- 

league, and you are in fact exalting your own 
honour when you approve of a dignity given to a 
Senator 2 . 

'After our Sovereigns there is none to whom I so 
much desire to commend myself as you. To me honour 
will ever be the sole test of advantage. Justice, like a 

1 This letter, which was not composed immediately after Cassiodorua' 
accession to office, must have been written after the death of the Frankish 
King Theodoric, which occurred, according to Clinton, early in 534, and 
before October 2 of the same year, the date of the death of Athalaric. 
Notwithstanding the obscurity of many of the allusions in it, this document 
is one of our best authorities for the history of Amalasuentha's regency, and 
is therefore translated almost verbatim. 

3 Partly a pun on his name, partly an allusion to his rank. 

Book XL Letter i. 453 

handmaid, will wait upon my actions ; and the power, 
which I have not myself bought from our virtuous 
Sovereign, I in my turn shall sell to no man. You 
have heard, noble Sirs, the panegyrics 1 passed upon 
me at my entrance into office. These praises I will 
not dare to call false, but I will say that they lay 
upon me a heavy responsibility to show that they are 
not unmerited. 

'Happy fortune of our time in which, while the So- 
vereign himself takes holiday, the love of his mother 
rules and covers us all with the robe of her universal 
charity ! Happy for the young Ruler, who in this dif- 
ficult position learns first to triumph over his im- 
petuous impulses, and attains in the springtime of his 
life that self-control which hoary age with difficulty 
acquires ! 

' As for the Mother whom he so dutifully obeys, Praises 
her most fittingly do all kingdoms venerate, whom to 
behold is to adore, to listen to is to witness a miracle. 
Of what language is she not a perfect mistress? She 
is skilled in the niceties of Attic eloquence ; she shines 
in the majesty of Roman speech; she glories in the 
wealth of the language of her fathers. She is equally 
marvellous in all these, and in each the orator in his 
own especial tongue feels himself surpassed by her. 
A great safeguard and a great excellence is this in 
the ruler of so many nationalities. None needs an 
interpreter with his accomplished mistress. No am- 
bassador need wait, or hear his words slowly filtered 
through the mind of a go-between. Everyone feels 
that his own words are listened to, and receives his 
answer from her lips in the language of his fore- 

'To these accomplishments, as a splendid diadem, ia. 
added that priceless knowledge of Literature, by which 

1 The letter written by Cassiodorus himself, in the name of Athalaric, 
to announce his elevation to the Praefecture (Var. ix. 25). 

454 Cassiodori Variae. 

the treasures of ancient learning are appropriated, and 
the dignity of the throne is ever enhanced. 

'Yet, while she rejoices in such perfect mastery of 
language, on public occasions she is so taciturn that 
she might be supposed to be indolent. With a few 
words she unties the knots of entangled litigations, 
she calmly arranges hot disputes, she silently promotes 
the public welfare. You do not hear her announce 
beforehand what will be her course of action in public ; 
but with marvellous skill she attains, by feigning, 
those points which she knows require to be rapidly 
gained 1 . 

Compari- ' What case like this can be produced from the annals 
Placidia ^ revere( l Antiquity? Placidia's care for her purple- 
clad son has often been celebrated; but by Placidia's 
lax administration of the Empire its boundaries were 
unbecomingly retrenched. She gained for him a wife 
and for herself a daughter-in-law 2 by the loss of Illy- 
ricum ; and thus the union of Sovereigns was bought 
by a lamentable division of the Provinces 3 . The dis- 
cipline of the soldiers was relaxed by too long peace; 
and, in short, Valentinian, under the guardianship of his 
mother, lost more than he could have done if he had 
been a helpless orphan. 

1 ( Et temperamento mirabili dissimulando peragit quod accelerandum 
esse cognoscit.' 

2 'Eudoxia.' 

3 ' Nurum denique sibi amissione Illyrici comparavit : factaque est con- 
junctio Regnantis, divisio dolenda provinciis.' On this alleged loss of 
Illyricum by the Western Empire, see Gibbon, cap. xxxiii. note 6. One 
may doubt, however, whether Cassiodorus has been correctly informed con- 
cerning it. Noricum and Pannonia at the time of Valentinian's marriage 
must have been entirely in the possession of the Huns ; and on the disso- 
lution of their monarchy Noricum at any rate seems to be connected with 
the Western rather than the Eastern Empire. As for Dalmatia, or the 
Province (as distinct from the Praefecture) of Illyricum, the retirement 
thither of the Emperor Nepos in 475? and the previous history of his uncle 
Marcellinus, point towards the conclusion that this Province was then con- 
sidered as belonging de jure to the Caesar of Rome rather than to him of 

Book XL Letter i. 455 

' But under this Lady, who can count as many Kings 
as ancestors in her pedigree, our army by Divine help 
is a terror to foreign nations. Being kept in a prudent 
equipoise it is neither worn away by continual fighting 
nor enervated by unbroken peace. In the very begin- Relations 
nings of the reign, when a new ruler's precarious power 2^ 
is apt to be most assailed, contrary to the wish of the 
Eastern Emperor she made the Danube a Koman stream. 
Well known is all that the invaders suffered, of which 
I therefore omit further mention, that the shame of 
defeat may not be too closely associated with the 
thought of the Emperor, our ally. Still, what he 
thought of your part of the Empire is clear from 
this, that he conceded to our attack that peace which 
he has refused to the abject entreaties of others. 
Add this fact, that though we have rarely sought 
him he has honoured us with so many embassies, 
and that thus his unique majesty has bowed down 
the stately head of the Orient to exalt the lords of 
Italy 1 . 

' The Franks also, overmighty by their victories over so Ex- 
rnany barbarous tribes by what a great expedition were againsT 
they harassed ! Attacked, they dreaded a contest with the 
our soldiers; they who had leaped unawares upon so 
many nations and forced them into battle. But though 
that haughty race declined the offered conflict, they 
could not prevent the death of their own King. For . 
Theodoric 2 , he who had so often availed himself of the 
name of our glorious King as an occasion for triumph, 
now fell vanquished in the struggle with disease 
a stroke of Divine Providence surely, to prevent us 
from staining ourselves with the blood of our kindred, 
and yet to grant some revenge to the army which had 

1 ' Et singularis ilia potentia, ut Italicos Dominos, erigeret, reverentiam 
Eoi culminis ordinavit.' This somewhat favours the notion that Theodoric 
and his successors called themselves Kings of Italy. 

2 Theodoric I, son of Clovis, King of the Franks, reigning at Metz, died, 
as before stated, in 534. 

456 Cassiodori Variae. 

been justly called out to war. Hail ! thou Gothic array, 
happy above all other happiness, who strikest at the 
life of a Royal foe, yet leavest us not the poorer by the 
life of one of the least of our soldiers 1 . 

League 'The Burgundian too, in order to receive his own 

Bu^un- a S a ^ n ' crouched in devotion, giving up his whole self 

dians. that he might receive a trifle. For he chose to obey 

with unimpaired territories, rather than to resist with 

these cut short ; and thus, by laying aside his arms, he 

most effectually defended his kingdom, recovering by 

his prayers what he had lost by the sword 2 . 

'Happy Princess, whose enemies either fall by the 
hand of God, or else by your bounty are united with 
your Empire! Rejoice, Goths and Romans alike, and 
hail this marvel, a being who unites the excellences of 
both the sexes ! As woman she has given birth to your 
illustrious King, while with manly fortitude of mind she 
has maintained the bounds of your Empire. 

' And now, if leaving the realm of war we enter the 
inner courts of her moral goodness, a hundred tongues 
will not suffice to sound forth all her praises. Her jus- 
tice is as great as her goodwill, but even greater is her 
kindness than her power. You, Senators, know the 
heavenly goodness which she has shown to your order, 
restoring those who had met with affliction to a 

1 <Et nobis nee unius ultimi facta subducis (?).' 

2 ' Burgundio quinetiam, ut sua reciperet, devotus effectus est : reddens 
se totum dum accepisset exiguum. Blegit quippe integer obedire, quam 
imminutus obsistere : tutius tune defendit regnum quando arma deposuit. 
Recuperavit enim prece, quod amisit in acie.' The meaning of these mys- 
terious words, as interpreted by Binding (268-270) and Jahn (ii. 252), is 
that Godomar, King of the Burgundians, received back from Amalasuentha 
(probably about 530, or a little later) the territory between the Durance 
and the Isere, which Theodoric had wrested from his brother in 523. The 
occasion of this cession was probably some league of mutual defence against 
the Franks, which Cassiodorus could without dishonesty represent as a 
kind of vassalage of Burgundy to Ostrogothia. If so, it availed Godo- 
mar little, as his territories were overrun by the Frankish Kings in 532, 
and the conquest of them was apparently completed by 534 (Jahn ii. 

Book XI. Letter i. 457 

higher state than that from which they had fallen 1 , 
and exalting to honour those who were still un- 

' Look at the case of the Patrician Liberius 2 , Praefect 
of the Gauls a man of charming manners, of distin- 
guished merit, a soldier with honourable scars who 
even while absent in his Praefecture has received the 
fasces and a patrimony from her. 

'What can I say of her strength of mind and te- 
nacity of purpose, in which she excels even philo- 
sophers? I speak of this from my own experience. 
You know, oh Conscript Fathers, what influences were 
arrayed against me 3 . Neither gold nor the prayers 
of great men availed: all things were tried, and tried 
in vain, to prove the glorious constancy of that wisest 

'And here the rules of rhetoric would require me 
to compare her with a long line of Empresses in the 
past. But if men cannot vie with her glory, what is the 
use of adducing female examples'? If we look at the 
Royal Cohort of her ancestors, we shall see that she, 
like a pure mirror, reflects all their excellences. For Virtues 
Amal 4 was conspicuous for his good fortune, Ostro- ^ ma j 
gotha for his patience, Athal for mildness, Munitarius Kings. 
[Winithar] for justice, Unimund for beauty, Thorismuth 
for chastity, Unalamer [Walamir] for faith, Theudimer 
for warmth of heart 5 , and Theodoric, the renowned 

1 ' Afflictos statu meliore restituit.' An allusion, probably, to her kind- 
| ness to the families of Boethius and Symmachus. 

2 No doubt the same Liberius who nobly defended the character of 
Amalasuentha at the Court of Justinian (Procopius, De Bello Gotthico i. 4). 

I Apparently he was made Consul, but his name does not appear in the Fasti 
: at this time. 

3 Probably to prevent his obtaining the Praefecture. 

* This and the following names belong to the ancestors of Amalasuentha, 
I and are found with slight variations in the treatise of Jordanes on the 
History of the Goths, which was founded on a similar treatise by Cassio- 
| dorus. 

5 ' Pietate Theudimer.' 

458 Cassiodori Variae. 

father of Amalasuentha, as ye have all seen, for patience. 
Each of these would recognise in her his own special 
attribute, but all would acknowledge that in these very 
attributes they are excelled by her. 

'You will now perhaps expect me to praise our 
young King, but in extolling the author of his being, 
I have abundantly extolled him, her offspring. You 
will remember that excellent saying of the eloquent 
Symmachus, " I hesitate to praise the beginning of his 
career because I am confidently hoping for his advance 
in virtue V Come to my help, Conscript Fathers, and 
render to your Lords and mine your united thanks 
for my promotion.' 


Saluta- 'Your prayers are assuredly the cause of our pro- 
m tion. Your fastings have procured plenty for the 
citizens. Saluting you therefore with all due reverence, 
we pray you to continue your prayers for long life to 
our rulers, for peace and plenty to the State, and for an 
increase of heavenly wisdom to me. Let the Judge in 
public life be such as the Catholic Church has trained 
her son to be. I am indeed a Judge of the Palace, but 
I shall not cease to be your disciple 3 . Cast not off upon 
me the whole care of this City, which you watch over 
with a father's love, but take thought both for its 
bodily and spiritual wants, and admonish me whenever 

1 ' Specto feliciter virtutis ejus augmenta, qui differo laudare principia.' 
The annotator says that these words are not to be found in the extant 
writings of Symmachus [the orator]. It was probably the younger 
Symmachus, the father-in-law of Boethius, who uttered them. At this 
time Athalaric was killing himself by his debaucheries. 

2 Pope John II (a Eoman, son of Projectus, and originally named 
Mercurius) succeeded Boniface II Jan. I, 533. His pontificate lasted till 
May 26, 535. His successor was Agapetus. This letter appears to have 
been written at a time of scarcity in Rome. 

3 'Sum quidem Judex Palatinus, sed vester non desinam esse dis- 

Book XI. Letters 2-3. 459 

you think I am erring. Your See is an object of ad- 
miration through all lands, and your charity is world- 
wide ; but yet you have also an especial, local love for 
the sheep of your own flock. 

' Home has in her own borders those shrines of martyr- 
dom l of the Apostles [Peter and Paul] which the whole 
world longs to behold. With such patrons, if only your 
prayers ascend, we need fear no evil.' 

* Fathers after the flesh delight in the advancement of Saluta- 

their sons. Even so do ye, my spiritual fathers, diligently 
pray to the Holy Trinity that He may make my candle Bishops. 
to give light to all that are in the house ; yea, and that 
He may so purge and enlighten mine own conscience 
that I may not, while an accurate Judge over other men, 
be a deceiver of mine own self. 

'I beg of you to declare a fast, and supplicate the 
Lord that He will prolong the life of our Sovereigns 2 , 
for the happiness of the realm ; that He will defend our 
State from the assaults of its enemies, will give us all 
tranquillity in our time, and will deign to make me 
worthy of your love. 

'Watch narrowly the acts of the subordinates whom 
I send among you, and inform me of anything which 
they do amiss. I cannot be held responsible for deeds of 
which I know nothing. And if they take bribes they 
at least cannot justify themselves by saying that they 
have first had to pay money for their offices. 

' Continue to afford your wonted solace to the widow and 
orphan ; yet beware that your pity does not lead you to 
seek to set aside the laws even for these. Oh, most holy 
men, banish to the home of all other unclean spirits 
violence, avarice, hatred, rapine ; and root out from 

1 ' Confessiones.' 

2 This was written, no doubt, when Athalaric was on his deathbed. 

460 Cassiodori Variae. 

among your people luxury, which is the depopulator of 
the human race. Let the Bishop teach, that the Judge 
may have a maiden assize 1 . If only your preaching be 
continued, the penal course of law must necessarily come 
to an end. 

* I therefore commend my dignity to your prayers, and 
end my letter with a salutation of love and honour to 
your Holinesses.' 


Func- 'We have formed a high opinion of you from long 

ofthe observation of your career as an Advocate, and feel sure 

Prae- that you will justify that opinion by your conduct in 

Deputy. the office to which we are now calling you. The Forum 

has long resounded to your eloquence: now your turn 

is come to sit upon the magistrate's bench. Hitherto 

you have assisted the officers of the court : now you are 

yourself called upon to play the part of a Judge. Even 

when you are absent from me, you will be deemed to be 

sitting by my side ; but whatever credit you may earn 

when hearing a case by yourself will be reckoned to you 


'We therefore ordain that the official staff which 
waits upon our orders shall be at your disposal, to carry 
your decisions into effect, and to see that none treat 
them with contempt. 

1 ' Episcopus doceat, ne judex possit invenire quod puniat.' 

2 ' Agenti vices.' Bethmann Hollweg (Gerichtsverfassung des sinkenden 
romischen Keichs, pp. 49-50) remarks : ' The relation of the Vices Magis- 
tratuum agentes does not belong to the Jurisdictio mandata. They are 
lieutenants (Stellvertreter) who are substituted provisionally in the room 
of an ordinary official of the Empire or of a Province, on account of his 
being temporarily disqualified or suspended from office by the Emperor or 
Praetorian Praefect. The municipal magistrates were also represented by 
vices agentes. But the extant authorities give us no very clear informa- 
tion as to their position.' Unfortunately this letter, relating to a vices 
agens of the Praetorian Praefect himself, does not add much to our infor- 

Book XI. Letters 4-5. 461 

'If you shall think it necessary to hand over any 
[insolvent] persons to those who have become security 
for them, assume that right with confidence, because 
that will most effectually relieve my mind when I shall 
learn that this matter has been finally disposed of by 
you \ For if I were present you might give me words 
only ; but now in my absence you owe me, rather, deeds. 

'Think, then, of all that is involved in your high 
office. Let your toil procure me rest from all men. 
Avoid the rocks on either side of you. These warnings 
come rather from my over-particularity 2 than from any 
distrust of you, for I believe that with God's help you 
will order all things as shall be best for our fame and for 
the Republic.' 


[On the occasion of a scarcity in Rome, either existing 
or dreaded. See the letter to Pope John II (xi. 2).] 

'I am sure that you will rejoice with me if the needs Grain 
of the Roman people can be satisfied by our means, and 
thus we can testify our gratitude for the hospitality Rome 
which we have both received from that City. To this 
end have we endured the discomforts of travel, for this 
purpose have we racked our brains with anxious 
thought, that that people, which tasted such delights 
of old in the happy days of its former rulers, may now 
see its necessities relieved and again enjoy its former 

1 I suggest this with hesitation as the translation of a difficult sentence : 
* Si quos etiam fidejussoribus committere necessarium aestimaveris, confi- 
denter assume : quia illud magis relevare potest animum nostrum, si 
aliquid per vos cognoscimus impletum.' Cassiodorus seems to be urging 
his deputy not to shrink from the exercise of even the most stringent 
rights inherent in his office, in order that causes may be terminated with- 
out reference to him. But is there authority for such a translation of the 
words ' fidejussoribus committere ? ' 

2 ' Curiositas.' 

46.2 Cassiodori Variae. 

' Their poverty and hunger we make our own. There- 
fore, with all speed, let stores of grain in good condition 
be at once collected, so that the bread cooked therefrom 
may be a delight and not a horror. Let just weight be 
given. Flee all thought of unholy profit from this 
source. My own soul is wounded if anyone dares to 
transgress in this matter of the food-supply of the 
people. Not favour nor popular applause is my aim ; 
but to be permitted, by God's help, to accomplish my own 
heart's desire. 

'I love all my fellow-countrymen, but the Roman 
citizens deserve more than ordinary love from me. 
Theirs is a City adorned with so many illustrious 
Senators, blest with such a noble commonalty, a City so 
well fitted to celebrate the victories of our glorious rulers. 
When the question of my promotion hung in suspense, it 
was the good wishes of these citizens which turned the 
scale in my favour with the lords of the world 1 , who 
complied with the universal desire of the Roman people. 
Come, then; so act that this goodwill of theirs to me 
may continue. Let us all beseech the mercy of the Most 
High to bless us with an abundant harvest; and let 
us resolve that, if we are thus favoured, no negligence 
of ours shall diminish, no venality divert from its proper 
recipients, the bounty of Heaven 2 / 


[An interesting letter, as showing the lowly original 
Func- of the office from whence have sprung the mediaeval and 
tions of modern Chancellors.! 

the Can- 

ceiiarius. * Your rare merit causes you to enjoy a position beyond 

1 Athalaric and Amalasuentha. 

2 In the last sentence but one, ' Fidem meam promitto : sed cum ipsis 
Divinitatis dona sustineo, cautelam offero,' I would suggest ipsius for ' ipsis, 
making cum = ' when,' not ' with.' There does not seem to be any ante- 
cedent plural to which ' ipsis ' can refer. 

Book XL Letter 6. 463 

that which of right belongs to you in the official hier- 
archy l . Those who are above you cheerfully manifest to 
you a deference which you might be required to show to 
them ; and thus you, while keeping your inferiors in their 
proper place, take without presumption precedence of 
many of your superiors. 

' This laudable prejudice has assigned to you, from the 
twelfth Indiction 2 , the dignity of Cancellarius 3 . 

'Guard then the secrets of our Consistory with incorrup- 
tible fidelity. Through your intervention the petitioner 
for justice has to approach me. On your acts depends in 
great measure the opinion which men shall form of me ; 
for as a house is judged by its front towards the street, 
and men by the trimness or shabbiness of their rai- 
ment, so are we high officials judged by the de- 
meanour of our subordinates who represent us to the 
crowd. Therefore, if such officials do anything which 
redounds to their master's dishonour, they put themselves 
altogether outside the pale of his clemency. 

'Remember your title, Cancellarius. Ensconced be- 
hind the lattice-work (cancelli) of your compartment, 
keeping guard behind those windowed doors, however 
studiously you may conceal yourself, it is inevitable that 
you be the observed of all observers 4 . If you step forth, 
my glances range all over you: if you return to your 
shelter, the eyes of the litigants are upon you. This is 
where Antiquity ruled that you should be placed, in order 
that your actions should be visible to all. 

' Attend now to this advice which I have given you, 
and let it not merely filter through your mind, like 
water through a pipe, but let it sink down into your 

1 f Transgressio matriculae actio tua est.' 

2 September I, 533. 

3 ' Hoc igitur laudabili praejudicium a duodecima Indictione canceller-urn 
tibi decus attribuit.' 

* * Kespice quo nomine nuncuperis. Latere non potest quod inter can- 
cellos egerig. Tenes quippe lucidas fores, claustra patentia, fenestratas 
januas ; et quamvis studiose claudas, necesse est ut te cunctis aperias.' 

464 Cassibdori Variae. 

heart, and, safely stored up there, let it influence the 
actions of your life.' 


Duties of ( It is an excellent thing that the yearly taxes 

lectoTifof sh 011 ^ k e regularly paid. What confidence does the 

Taxes, consciousness of this give to the taxpayer, who can 

march boldly through the Forum, feeling that he owes 

nothing to anybody and need not fear the face of any 

official ! One can only enj oy an estate if one has no fear 

of the process-server making his appearance upon it. 

' Therefore, in the Diocese of your Excellency 1 , we desire 
you and your staff at the beginning of this twelfth Indic- 
tion 2 , with all proper gentleness, to impress upon the 
cultivator of the soil that he must pay his land-tax 3 and 
end those long arrears, which were introduced not for the 
assistance of the taxpayer, but for the corrupt profit of 
the tax-collector. For the officials who in this way 
professed to relieve the burdens of the people, really 
imposed upon them a heavier and more hateful weight 
in the shape of douceurs 4 to themselves. 

* Let then this hateful swindling be henceforth banished. 
Let the cultivator pay nothing more than his lawful debt 
to the Treasury, and let him pay it at the appointed time, 
thus removing the confusion in which the slowness of 
collection has involved our accounts. 

' Make up, therefore, the abstracts of accounts 5 at the 
stated times, and forward them to the proper bureaux 6 , 

1 * Dicationis tuae.' A peculiar and untranslatable form of respect. 

2 September I, 533. 

3 'Trina illatio' (See Var. ii. 24). So called because it was collected 
three times in the year. See Dahn, Konige der Germanen iii. 140 ; and 
Sartorius, Regierung der Ostg. 200. The latter seems however to confuse 
it with the ' tertiae,' from which Dahn very properly distinguishes it. 

4 < Nundinationes.' 

5 'Breves.' 6 'Scrinia.' 


Book XI. Letters 7-8. 465 

according to old law and the authority of this present 
edict ; and if you neglect any of these injunctions, know 
that you do so at your peril. To quicken your diligence 
we have appointed A and B, persons of tried merit in 
the past, to supervise the proceedings of yourself and 
your staff, that this double check may prevent the possi- 
bility of negligence. 

'Act then with justice if you wish to receive further 
promotion. Only those gains are to be sought for which 
the cultivator gladly offers and which the public servant 
can securely accept. If you take bribes you will be 
miserable ever after, through fear of discovery ; but if you 
act uprightly, you will have in me a willing spectator 
and rewarder of your merits. I am most anxious to be 
your friend ; do not force me against my will to become 
your enemy.' 


' The custom of the ancients was for a new ruler to Edict 
promulgate a new set of laws to his subjects, but now it j^" 1 ^* " 
is sufficient praise to a conscientious ruler that he adheres siodorus' 
to the legislation of Antiquity. piesof 

' Do you all study to perform good actions, and shrink adminis- 
from deeds of lawlessness and sedition, and you will have 
nothing to fear from your Governors. I know that some 
fear, however irrational, is felt in the presence of the 
Judge ; but as far as my purpose can avail, with the help 
of God and the rulers of the State 1 , I can promise you 
that all things shall be done with justice and mode- 

'Venality, that greatest stain upon a Judge's character, 
will be unknown in me ; for I should think scorn to sell 
the words that go out of my lips, like clothes in the 

1 ' Juvante Deo, rerumque Dominis regnantibus.' 

466 Cassiodori Variae. 

'In exercising the right of pre-emption we shall be 
solely guided by the wants of the State, buying nothing 
at a forced price in order to sell it again 1 . 

' Be cheerful and of good courage, therefore, with refer- 
ence to the new administration. No soldier or civil 
servant shall harass you for his own pleasure. No tax- 
collector shall load you with burdens of his own imposi- 
tion. We are determined to keep not only our own hands 
clean, but also those of our officials. Otherwise, vainly 
does a good Judge guard himself from receiving money, if 
he leaves to the many under him licence to receive it on 
their own account. But we, both by precept and example, 
show that we aim at the public good, not at private and 
fraudulent gains. 

'We know what prayers you put up for us, how 
anxiously you watched for our elevation, and we are 
determined that you shall not be disappointed. Our 
Praetorium, which no base action has ever defiled, shall 
be open to all. No servile throng shall lord it over you. 
You shall come straight to us, making your requests 
known to us through no hired interpreter, and none shall 
leave our presence poorer than he entered it. With God's 
help we trust we shall so act as to conform to the instruc- 
tions which we have received from our Sovereign 2 ; and 
we trust that you, by your loyalty, will enable us to be 
rather the Father of our Provinces than their Judge. You 
have patiently obeyed governors who fleeced you; how 
much more ought you to obey one who, as you know, 
loves you mightily ! Pay the regular fees to the officials 
who are labouring in your midst; for there is no such 
excuse for high-handed oppression as the fact that a man 
is not receiving his covenanted salary. Obey the rule of 
reason, and you will not have to fear the armed man's 

1 ' Sperari a vobis aliquid sola specierum indigentia faciet, non malitiosa 
venalitas . . . nee ad taxationem trahiinus quae necessaria non habentur.' 

2 * Quemadmodum a rerum Dominis mandata suscepimus.' 

Book XI. Letters 8-9. 467 

'We wish that you should enjoy the privileges conceded 
to you by former rulers without any encroachment by 
violent men. 

4 And now be of good heart ; I pledge myself for your 
righteous government. Had I been present with you 
face to face, ye could not have seen my mind ; but ye 
can read it in this letter, which is the mirror of my 
heart, the true image of my will, and ye can see that 
it desires only your prosperity.' 



1 Knowing that past suffering makes men anxious and Exhor- 
timid as to the future, we have put forth an edict [the 

preceding document] in order to reassure the minds of Jud s es 
the Provincials, and to deliver them from the torment i n confer- 
of ever-present fear. g 

'Therefore we call upon your Excellency 1 to cause 
this edict to be exposed in all the places which are 
most resorted to. Thus let the love and devotion of 
all classes be excited towards our happy Sovereigns 2 , 
that as our thoughts towards the people are entirely 
thoughts of goodwill, so their dispositions towards the 
rulers who govern them in righteousness may be only 
loyal 3 . 

' It now rests with you, by your just government of 
the Provincials, to carry our promises into effect. 

'Remember that the official staff standing by, is a 
witness of the acts of every one of you ; and so com- 
port yourselves, that both they and all others may see 
that you in your own conduct obey the laws which 
you administer. 

1 ' Dicatio tua.' 2 ' Circa Dorainos felices.' 

3 <Ita se et illi devotos debent pie regnantibus exhibere.' Compare 
again Claudian's words : 

* Nunquam libertas gratior exstat, 
Quam sum rege pio.' 
H h 2 

468 Cassiodori Variae. 

( Be more anxious to remedy the poverty of the Pro- 
vincials than to inflict punishment upon them. So act 
that when you are giving an account of your steward- 
ship your year of office may be felt to have been all 
too short 1 . If you have acted justly, and earned the good- 
will of your Provincials, you will have no need of gifts 
to stave off accusations. 

' We do not appoint any spies upon your actions, and 
we pray you so to act that this most humiliating expe- 
dient may not be necessary. 

8 If you meet with any who pertinaciously set them- 
selves up against the authority of your fasces, send us 
at once a messenger with your report ; or, if you cannot 
spare such an one, send the report alone, as you have 
authority to use the public postal-service 2 . Thus all 
excuse for remissness on your part is taken away, since 
you can either wield your power or explain to us the 
hindrances which beset you.' 


Davus is * Our lord the King 3 (whose prayer it is that he may 

STthe ever re jice in the welfare of all his subjects), when he 

Mons reflected upon the impaired health of his servant Davus 4 , 

rius. a " ordered him to seek to the healing properties of the 

Mons Lactarius 5 , for the cure which medical aid seemed 

powerless to bestow. A frequent cough resounded from 

1 * Sic agite ut cum justitia probata quaeritur, annus vester brevis esse 

2 ' Quando et evectiones publicas accepistis et nobis gratum sit audire de 

3 ' Rerum Domini dementia.' 

* Or David, according to some MSS. 

5 This is no doubt the mountain on whose skirts was fought the decisive 
battle between Narses and Teias in 553, now known as Monte Lettere. It 
is a spur of the range reaching from Sorrento to Salerno, which attains its 
highest elevation in Monte San Angelo (4,690 feet high). It rises opposite 
to Mount Vesuvius on the south-east, the ruins of Pompeii and the valley 
of the Sarno (formerly the Draco) lying between the two. 

Book XI. Letters 10-11. 469 

his panting chest, his limbs were becoming emaciated, 
and the food which he took seemed to have lost all 
power to nourish his frame. Persons in this state can 
neither feed nor endure to fast, and their bodies seem 
like leaky casks, from which all strength must soon 
dribble away. 

' As an antidote to this cruel malady Heaven has The milk- 
given us the Mons Lactarius, where the salubrious air cure > a 


working together with the fatness of the soil has pro- for con- 
duced a herbage of extraordinary sweetness. The cows 8um P tlon - 
which are fed on this herbage give a milk which seems 
to be the only remedy for consumptive patients who have 
been quite given over by their physicians. As sleep 
refreshes the weary limbs of toil, so does this milk 
fill up the wasted limbs and restore the vanished 
strength. Strange is it to see the herds feeding on 
this abundant pasture. They look as if it did not profit 
them at all. Thin and scraggy, as they wander through 
the thickets they look like the patients who seek their 
aid; yet their milk is so thick that it sticks to the 
milker's fingers. 

' Do you therefore supply the invalid when he arrives, 
with the appointed rations and pecuniary allowance, 
that he may be suitably maintained in that place while 
he is recreating his exhausted energies with the food 
of infancy. 

1 And, oh! all ye who are suffering under the like 
grievous malady, lift up your hearts. There is hope 
for you. By no bitter antidote, but by a delicious 
draught, you shall imbibe life life, in itself the sweetest 
of all things.' 



' The price at which provisions are sold ought to follow, Prices at 
in a reasonable way, the circumstances of the times, that 

470 Cassiodori Variae. 

there may be neither cheapness in a dear season, nor dear- 
ness in a cheap one, and that the grumblings of both 
buyers and sellers may be avoided, by fairness being 
observed towards both. 

' Therefore, after careful consideration, we have fixed in 
the subjoined schedule the prices of the various articles 
of produce, which prices are to remain free from all 

' If any vendor does not observe the prices named in 
the present edict, he will be liable to a fine of six solidi 
(3 I2s.) for each violation of the law, and may be visited 
by corporal punishment 1 .' 

[The schedule mentioned in this letter is unfortunately 
not preserved. Few documents that Cassiodorus could 
have handed down to posterity would have been more 
valuable. If we could have compared it with the 
celebrated Edict of Stratonicea (cir. A.D. 301), we should 
have seen what changes had been wrought in the value 
of the precious metals and the distribution of wealth 
during the two centuries of disturbance and barbaric 
invasion which had elapsed since the reign of Diocletian. 
But, unfortunately, Cassiodorus believed that his rhetoric 
and his natural history would be more interesting to us 
than these vulgar facts.] 



Prices ' If prices need to be fixed for the leisurely inhabitant 
f a town, much more for the traveller, whose journey 
may otherwise become a burden instead of a pleasure. 
Let strangers therefore find that they are entertained by 
you at fixed prices. To fawn upon them with feigned 
politeness and then terrify them with enormous charges 

1 ' Per singulos excessus sex solidorum mulctam a se noverit exigendam 
et fustuario posse subjacere supplicio.' 

Book XI. Letters 12-13. 

is the act of a highway robber. Do you not know how 
much better moderate prices would suit your own pur- 
pose ? Travellers would gladly flock to your accommoda- 
tion-houses 1 if they found that you treated them fairly. 

* Let no one think that because he is a long way off, 
his extortion will escape notice, for people are arriving 
here every day with tales of your rapacity. 

' An official despatched for the purpose will, after deli- 
beration with the citizens and Bishops of each place, 
decide what prices are to be charged there ; and then 
whosoever dares to ask higher prices will have to pay a 
fine of six solidi (^3 izs.) and will be afflicted by the 
laceration of his body. 

'Honest gains at the expense of your fellow-citizens 
ought to suffice for all of you. One would think that 
the highways were beset with brigands.' 


* It seems a right and proper thing that we should Suppli- 
address our prayers for the safety of the Roman Repub- 

lie to a dutiful Sovereign 2 , who can only desire what Senate 
will benefit our freedom. We therefore beseech you, ti 
most clement Emperor, and from the bosom of the Curia 
we stretch forth our two hands to you in prayer, that 
you will grant a most enduring peace to our King. 
Spurn not us, who ever seemed certain of your love. It 
is in truth the Roman name that you are commending, 
if you grant gracious terms to our lords. May your 
league with them assure the peace of Italy ; and if our 
prayers be not sufficient to accomplish this thing, 
imagine that you hear our country break forth with 

1 This ia, I believe, the expression used in some of the Australian colo- 
nies for what Cassiodorus calls commoda vestra. 

2 'PioPrincipi.' 

472 Cassiodori Variae. 

these words of supplication : " If ever I was acceptable 
to thee, love, oh most dutiful Sovereign, love my 
defenders ! They who rule me ought to be in harmony 
with thee, lest otherwise they begin to do such deeds to- 
wards me as thou least of all men wouldest desire. Be not 
to me a cause of death, thou who hast ever ministered 
unto me the joys of life. Lo, while at peace with thee I 
have doubled the number of my children, I have been 
decked with the glory of my citizens. If thou sufferest 
me to be wounded, where is thy dutiful name of Son? 
What couldest even thou do more for me [than these 
rulers], seeing that my religion and thine thus nourish 
under their rule ? 

' " My Senate grows in honour and is incessantly in- 
creasing in wealth. Do not dissipate in quarrels what 
thou oughtest rather to defend with the sword. I have 
had many Kings ; but none so trained in letters as this 
one. I have had foreseeing statesmen, but none so power- 
ful in learning and religion. I love the Amal, bred up 
as he has been at my knees, a strong man, one who has 
been formed by my conversation, dear to the Romans 
by his prudence, venerable to the nations by his valour. 
Join rather thy prayers to his ; share with him thy coun- 
sels : so that any prosperity which I may earn may 
redound to thy glory. Do not woo me in the only 
fashion in which I may not be won. Thine am I already 
in love, if thou sendest none of thy soldiers to laceral 
my limbs. For if Africa has deserved through thee to 
recover freedom, it were hard that I should from the 
same hand lose that freedom which I have ever pos- 
sessed. Control the emotions of anger, oh illustrious 
conqueror ! The claims urged upon thee by the general 
voice of the people ought to outweigh the offence which 
the ingratitude of any private individual may have oc- 
casioned to thy heart." 

* Thus Rome speaks while, through her Senators, 
she makes supplications to you. And if that be noi 

Book XI. Letter 13. 473 

enough, let the sacred petition of the blessed Apostles 
Peter and Paul be also taken into your account. For 
surely they, who are proved to have so often defended 
the peace of Rome from her enemies, deserve that your 
Sovereignty should yield everything to their merits. 
The venerable man, our most pious King's am- 
bassador to your Clemency, will further set forth our 

[It is not easy to fix the exact occasion on which this 
petition was likely to be sent from the Senate to the 
Emperor. The allusion to the conquest of Africa shows 
that it was after the Vandal War, which ended in 
March, 534. On the other hand, the language put into 
the mouth of the Senate implies that the Imperial troops 
had not yet landed in Italy or Sicily, and the petition is 
therefore of an earlier date than the summer of 535. 
During the whole of these fourteen months the rela- 
tions between Empire and Kingdom were more or 
less strained, the causes of complaint on the part of 
Constantinople beginning with the occupation of Lily- 
baeum and ending with the murder of Amalasuentha. 
I fear that the flattering portrait drawn of ' the Amal ' 
can apply to no one but Theodahad, the terms used 
being hopelessly inapplicable to a boy like Athalaric. 
Who then are * our lords ' (' nostri Domini '), in whose 
name peace is besought. The best that we can hope, 
for the sake of the reputation of Cassiodorus, is that 
they are Amalasuentha and Theodahad, the letter being 
written between October 3, 534 (when Athalaric died), 
and April 30, 535 (when Amalasuentha was imprisoned). 
Upon the whole this seems the most probable conclu- 
sion. If written after Amalasuentha's death, in the few 
months or weeks which intervened between that event 
and the landing of Belisarius in Sicily, the language 
employed reflects deep discredit on the writer. In 
that case, 'nostri Domini' must mean Theodahad and 

474 Cassiodori Variae. 


'The City of Como 1 is visited by so many travellers 
ofComo ^at ^ e cu ^i va ^ ors f ^Q soil declare that they are 
Belief of quite worn out with requisitions for post-horses 2 . Where- 
T f re we direct that by Royal indulgence they be favoured 
in this matter 3 , that this city, so beautifully situated, do 
not become a solitude for want of inhabitants. 

1 Como, with its precipitous mountains and its vast 
expanse of lake, seems placed there for the defence of 
the Province of Liguria ; and yet, again, it is so beauti- 
ful that one would think it was created for pleasure 
only. To the south lies a fertile plain with easy roads 
for the transport of provisions ; on the north a lake 
sixty miles long, abounding in fish, soothing the mind 
with delicious recreation. 

'Rightly is it called Como, because it is adorned 
(compta) with such gifts. The lake lies in a shell-like 
valley, with white margins. Above rises a diadem of 
lofty mountains, their slopes studded with bright villas*, 
a girdle of olives below, vineyards above, while a crest 
of thick chestnut-woods adorns the very summit of the 
hills. Streams of snowy clearness dash from the hill-sides 
into the lake. On the eastern side these unite to form 
the river Addua, so called because it contains the added 
volume of two streams. It plunges into the lake with 
such force that it keeps its own colour 5 (dark among the 

1 Thus called by Cassiodorus ; not Comum. 

3 ' Se possessores paraveredorum assiduitate suggerunt esse fatigatos.' 

3 ' Quibus indultu Eegali beneficium praecipimus jugiter custodiri.' These 
words do not make it clear how the inhabitants were relieved by the Royal 
decree ; but it was probably by some gift of money like that which is an- 
nounced in the next letter. 

4 ' Praetoriorum luminibus decenter ornata.' 

5 So Claudian (De VI Consolata Honorii 196), 'et Addua visu 
nil us.' 

Book XI. Letters 14-15. 


whiter waters) and its own name far along the northern 
shore 1 , a phenomenon often seen with rivers flowing into 
the ocean, but surely marvellous with one flowing into 
an inland lake. And so swift is its course as it moves 
through the alien waves, that you might fancy it a river 
flowing over the solid plains. 

' So delightful a region makes men delicate and averse 
to labour. Therefore the inhabitants deserve especial 
consideration, and for this reason we wish them to enjoy 
perpetually the royal bounty.' 


[Announcing the despatch of money to relieve the 
necessities of the Province, possibly after some incur- 
sions of the Franks. This would fit in pretty well with 
the mention of Astensis Civitas as having suffered the 
| most.] 

' It is the privilege of a King to increase the happiness Relief of 
I of his subjects. Not to postpone your joy by too long a ^^'3 
preface, I will come to the point at once, and inform you of Li- 
I that our most glorious Lords, taking the necessities of 
their loyal Liguria into account, have sent loolbs. of gold 
j [3^4,000] by the hands of A and B, officers of the Royal Bed- 
;hamber. You are to say how the money is to be spent, 
idicating the persons who are in the greatest necessity ; 
>ut as we are informed that the city of Asti has been 
lore heavily weighted than others, it is our wish that 
it should be chiefly helped by this disbursement. Now, 
lo you who are tiibutaries, reflect upon the clemency 
)f your lords, who are inverting the usual order of 
lings, and paying out to you from the Treasury what 
ley are accustomed to receive. Let us know at once 

1 ' Ut nomen retinens et colorem in Septentrionem obesiore alvei ventre 

476 Cassiodori Variae. 

how much you think each taxpayer ought to receive, 
that we may deduct it from his first instalment of 
land-tax 1 . 

' And put up your prayers for your most affectionate 
Sovereigns, that they may receive back again from Hea- 
ven the favour which they are conferring on you.' 


Oppres- ' In thanking me so earnestly for a recent benefit [pro- 
practised bably the present mentioned in the preceding letter] you 
on the invited me to further favours, and the implied promise 
tobe which I then gave you I now fulfil. 

remedied. ' You complain that you are burdened with unjust 
weights and measures, and I therefore declare that this 
iniquity shall cease, and that no tax-collector or tithe- 
collector 2 , shall dare to use too long a measure or too 
heavy a weight [in the collection of the King's revenue]. 
'Also that their accounts shall be promptly balanced, 
and that any overcharge that may be detected shall be at 
once repaid. 

* Now then, your minds being freed from anxiety on 
this score, turn your attention to the supply of the wants 
of our most flourishing army, and show your zeal for the 
public good, since we have satisfied you that it is not for 
private and fraudulent gains that you are to pay your 

1 * Sed ut beneficia Dominorum subtractis exactionum incommodis au- 
geantur, celerius relatio vestra nos instruat, quid unicuique de hac summa 
relaxandum esse judicetis, ut tantum de primd illations faciamus suspendi 
quantum ad nos notitia directa vulgaverit.' The meaning of Cassiodorus 
seems quite clear, though it is not easy to understand how far the actual 
gift of money was supplemented by, or independent of, remission of land- 

2 ' Exactores atque susceptores.' For the latter office, see Cod. Theod. 
xii. 6. 

Book XI. Letters 16-20. 477 


* On this day of general rejoicing, when by the kind- Promo- 
ness of Heaven the way of salvation was opened to all 

mankind, we wish that the members of our staff should of Prae - 
also be glad. For to rejoice, ourselves, when those p rae - 
around us are mourning, is a kind of sacrilege. Hence torio - 
some philosophers have held that the whole human 
race is one being, the various members of which are 
constrained to share one another's feelings of joy or 
sadness. Therefore let every official in our staff ac- 
cording to his grade 2 get promotion on this day, not 
only rising himself, but creating a vacancy which enables 
those below him to rise also.' 

[All the Letters from 1 8 to 35 are documents, for the 
most part very short ones, relating to these promotions. 

For an explanation of the terms used in these letters, 
and of the whole subject of the staff of the Praetorian 
Praefect, see chapter iv. of the Introduction.] 

In Letter 18, Antianus, who is vacating the office of 
CORNICULARIUS, receives the rank of Spectabilis, and 
has a place assigned him among the Tribuni and 
Notarii, where he may 'adore the presence of his 
Sovereign 3 .' 

In Letter 19 the successor of Antianus in the office of 
CORNICULARIUS receives his appointment. 

In Letter zo the retiring PRIMISCRINIUS also receives 
the rank of Spectabilis, and takes his place among 

1 This letter was probably addressed to the Princeps, the highest person 
; in the whole Officium, as it contains the words ' unus quisque . . . tud de- 

signations vulgetur? 

2 ' Juxta matriculae seriem.' 

3 'Inter Tribunos et Notarios ' ad adorandos aspectus properet Prin- 

478 Cassiodori Variae. 

the Tribuni and Notarii, 'to adore the Purple of 

In Letter 21 Andreas is rewarded for his faithful 
service on the Praetorian staff 1 , by being promoted to 
the office of PRIMISCRINIUS. 

In Letter 2,2, Catellus, who stands next in grade for 
this promotion 2 , obtains the post of SCRINIARIUS Ac- 


In Letter 23 Constantinian, to whose virtues Cassio- 
dorus himself bears witness, receives the charge of 
letters relating to the collection of Land-Tax (CuRA 

In Letter 24 Lucillus is appointed a clerk in the War- 

In Letter 25 Patricius is appointed chief of the short- 

In Letter 26 Justus obtains a place as member of the 
Sixth Schola (SEXTUS SCHOLARIS 3 ). 

In Letter 27 Joannes, whom we saw in the Sixth 
Letter of this Book entrusted with the duties of 
Cancellarius, is rewarded for his faithful discharge of 
those duties by receiving the place of PRAEROGATIVA- 
RIUS 4 . 

In Letter 28 Cheliodorus 5 is appointed to the place 
of COMMENTARIENSIS (Magistrates' clerk). 

1 ' Qui Praetorianis fascibus inculpabiliter noscitur obsecutus.' 

2 ' Quern matriculae series fecit accedere.' 

3 I am unable to suggest any explanation of this title. 

* I have not found any explanation of this title, which is apparently 
unknown to the Notitia, to Lydus, and to the Theodosian Code. 
5 Note the corrupt form of the name Heliodorus. 


Book XI. Letters 21-34. 479 

In Letter 29 Cart(h)erius is promoted to the office of 
REGERENDARIUS (Secretary of the Post-Office), in the hope 
that this promotion will render him yet more earnest 
in the discharge of his Praetorian labours. 

In Letter 30 Ursus is appointed PRIMICERIUS DEPUTA- 
TORUM, and Beatus (probably the Cancellarius addressed 
in Letter 10) is made PRIMICERIUS AUGUST ALIUM. 

In Letter 31 Urbicus, on vacating the post of PRIMI- 
CERIUS SINGULARIORUM (Chief of the King's Messengers), 
is placed among the Body-guards (Domestic! et Pro- 
tectores), where he may adore the Royal Purple, that, 
being made illustrious by gazing on the Sovereign, 
he may rejoice in his liberation from official harass- 

[As the Singularii did not form part of the learned 
staff (Militia Litterata), their chief on retiring receives 
a guardsman's place, but still one which gives him 
access to royalty.] 

In Letter 32 Pierius receives the post of PRIMICERIUS 
SINGULARIORUM which is thus vacated. 

In Letter 33 Cassiodorus, expanding the proverb * Bis Delega- 
dat qui cito dat/ agrees that the Delegatoria x (or Dele- tona " 
gatiorius), the letter conferring on the receiver the right 
to receive the increase of rations due to his promotion, 
should not be long delayed. 

In Letter 34 Antianus, the retired Cornicularius of 
Letter 18, receives a somewhat evasive answer to a 
petition which apparently affected the rights of those 
below him in the official hierarchy 2 . 

1 We get this sense of Delegatio in Cod. Theod. vii. 4. 35 : 'Annonas 
omnes, quae universis officiis atque Sacri Palatii Ministeriis et SacriS 
Scriniis ceterisque cunctarum adminiculis dignitatum adsolent delegari.' 

2 In this letter occurs a sentence of tantalising obscurity : ' Sola nos 
Alpha complectitur ubi ea littera non timetur.' 

480 Cassiodori Variae. 

In Letter 35 we have an example of the Delegatoria 
alluded to in Letter 33. It is concerned with a PRINCEPS, 
apparently the Princeps of the AGENTES IN REBUS ; and, 
after extolling the zeal and alacrity of those officers, 
who are constantly intent on enforcing obedience to 
the Imperial decrees and reverence for the authority 
of the Praetorian Praefect, he observes that it would be 
impiety to delay the reward of such labour. 

' Therefore let your Experience x pay, out of the third 
instalment of land-tax 2 from such and such a Province, 
those monies which the wisdom of Antiquity directed 
should be paid to the Princeps Augustorum 3 . Let this 
be done at once to those who are chargeable on the 
accounts of the thirteenth Indiction (Sept. I, 534 
Sept. i, 535). Let there be no venal delays. Behave 
to the out-going public servant as you would wish that 
others should behave to you on your retirement from 
office'. All men should honour the veteran, but espe- 
cially they who are still toiling in the public service.' 


The re- ' As all things else come to an end, so it is right that 
ofTcor- ^ e laborious life of a civil servant should have its 
nicuiarius appointed term, 
superan- ' The heavenly bodies have their prescribed time in 
nuation wn ich to complete their journeyings. Saturn in thirty 
ancejus- years wanders over his appointed portion of space. 
aSiro n J u P^er in twelve years finishes the survey of his 
nomical kingdom. Mars, with fiery rapidity, completes his 
1 St course in eighteen months. The Sun in one year goes 
through all the signs of the Zodiac. Venus accom- 
plishes her circuit in fifteen months ; the rapid Mer- 
cury in thirteen months. The Moon, peculiar in her 

1 It is not clear to whom the letter is addressed. 

2 ' Ex illatione tertia.' 

3 The marginal note says : ' i.e. Agentium in Eebus.' 

Book XI. Letters 35-36. 481 

nearer neighbourhood, traverses in thirty days the space 
which it takes the Sun a year to journey over 1 . 

'All these bodies, which, as philosophers say, shall only 
perish with the world, have an appointed end to their 
journeyings. But they complete their course that they 
may begin it again: the human race serves that it 
may rest from its ended labours. Therefore, since the . 
Cornicularius in my Court has completed his term of 
office, you are to pay him without any deduction this 
ist September 700 solidi (430) from the revenues 
of the Province of Samnium, taking them out of the third 
instalment of land-tax 2 . He commanded the wings of the 
army of the Praefect's assistants, from whence he derived 
his name 3 . When he handed us the inkstand, we wrote, 
unbribed, those decrees which men would have paid a 
great price to obtain 4 . We gratified him whom the laws 
favoured, we frowned on him who had not justice on his 
side. No litigant had cause to regret his success, since 
it came to him unbought. You know all this that we 
are saying to be true, for our business was all transacted 
in the office, not in the bedchamber. What we did, the 
whole troop of civil servants knew 5 . We were private 

1 As might be expected from an observer who did not understand the 
earth's motion in its orbit, the periods assigned to the inferior planets in 
this paragraph are all wrong, while those assigned to the superior planets 
are pretty nearly right. 

Periods according to Cassiodorus. True Periods. 

Saturn ... 30 years 29 years 174 days. 

Jupiter ... 12 ii 317 

Mars .... i year 182 days . . * year 321 
Venus .... i 91 . . . 224 

Mercury ... i 30 ... 88 

2 ' Per illam Indictionem de Samnii provincial ex illatione terti sine 
ambiguitate contrade.' 

3 'Praefuit enim Cornibus Secretarii Praetoriani, unde ei nomen est 

* 'Eo ministrante caliculum scripsimus inempti quod magnis pretiis 
optabatur impleri.' 

5 ' Quod egimus cohortes noverunt.' Observe the military character of 
the service, ' cohortes.' 

I i 

482 Cassiodori Variae. 

persons in our power of harming, Judges in our power of 
doing good. Our words might be stern, our deeds were 
kindly. We frowned though mollified; we threatened 
though intending no evil ; and we struck terror that we 
might not have to strike. You have had in me, as you 
were wont to say, a most clean-handed Judge : I shall 
leave behind in you my most uncorrupted witnesses/ 


Payment ' It was well ordered by Antiquity that the servants of 

in r p5- ^ ne P^lic should, receive a due reward for their labours ; 

miscri- and who of all these are more deserving than the 
officers of the Praetorian Praefect (Praetoriani). Theirs 
is the difficult task of waiting on the necessities of the 
army. They must demand accounts, often minute and 
intricate, from great officers whom they dare not offend. 
They must collect the stores of food for the Roman 
people from the Provincials without giving them cause 
for complaint 1 . Their acts constitute our true glory; 
and in the formation of their characters, work, hard 
work, that stern and anxious pedagogue 2 , is better than 
all literary or philosophic training. 

' Such men ought assuredly to receive their stipulated 
rewards ; and therefore we order you to pay regularly 
so many solidi of the third instalment, from the land- 
tax of the Province of Campania 3 , to such and such 
a person, who has now just completed his term of 
service as Primiscrinius.' 

1 'Eorum est etiam sudoribus applicandum, quod victuales expensae 
longe quidem positae, sed tamquam in urbe Eegid natae [I do not quite 
understand this antithesis] sine querela" Provincialium congregantur.' 

a 'Labores, violenti magistri, solliciti paedagogi, per quos cautior quis 
efficitur dum incurri pericula formidantur.' 

3 ' Ex canone provinciae Campaniae tertiae illationis tot solidos solenni- 
ter te dare censemus.' 

Book XL Letters 37-38. 



'Rightly did Antiquity ordain that a large store of Praises 
paper should be laid in by our Bureaux (Scrinia), that paper 
litigants might receive the decision of the Judge clearly 
written, without delay, and without avaricious and 
impudent charges for the paper which bore it 2 . 

' A wonderful product in truth is this wherewith in- 
genious Memphis has supplied all the offices in the 
world. The plants of Nile arise, a wood without leaves 
or branches, a harvest of the waters, the fair tresses of 
the marshes, plants full of emptiness, spongy, thirsty, 
having all their strength in their outer rind, tall and 
light, the fairest fruit of a foul inundation. 

* Before Paper was discovered, all the sayings of the 
wise, all the thoughts of the ancients, were in danger of 
perishing. Who could write fluently or pleasantly on 
the rough bark of trees, though it is from that practice 
that we call a book Liber ? While the scribe was labori- 
ously cutting his letters on the sordid material, his very 
thought grew cold: a rude contrivance assuredly, and 
only fit for the beginnings of the world. 

'Then was paper discovered, and therewith was elo- 
quence made possible. Paper, so smooth and so continu- 
ous, the snowy entrails of a green herb ; paper which can 
be spread out to such a vast extent, and yet be folded up 
into such a little space ; paper, on whose white expanse 
the black characters look beautiful ; paper which keeps 
the sweet harvest of the mind, and restores it to the 
reader whenever he chooses to consult it ; paper which 
is the faithful witness of all human actions, eloquent 
of the past, a sworn foe to oblivion. 

1 Tax-collector. 

2 Lydus (De Magistratibus iii. 14) makes a similar remark, but says that 
in his time the copying clerks (Exceptarii, or Exceptores) supplied dis- 
gracefully bad paper made of grass, and charged a fee for doing so. 

I 1 2 

484 Cassiodori Variae. 

1 Therefore for this thirteenth Indiction l pay so many 
solid! from the land-tax of the Tuscan Province to our 
Bureau, that it may be able to keep in perpetuity a 
faithful record of all its transactions.' 


Payment * The vast numbers of the Roman people in old time 

vhiceof are evidenced by the extensive Provinces from which 

Bruttii their food supply was drawn, as well as by the wide 

muted" circuit of their walls, the massive structure of their 

cattle- amphitheatre, the marvellous bigness of their public 

baths, and the enormous multitude of mills, which could 

only have been made for use, not for ornament. 

'It was to feed this population, that mountainous 
Lucania paid her tribute of swine, that fertile Bruttii 
furnished her droves of oxen. It was a glorious privi- 
lege for them thus to feed the Roman people: yet the 
length of roads over which the animals had to be driven 
made the tribute unnecessarily burdensome, since every 
mile reduced their weight, and the herdsman could 
not possibly obtain credit at the journey's end for the 
same number of pounds of flesh which he possessed at 
its beginning. For this reason the tribute was commuted 
into a money payment, one which no journeyings can 
diminish and no toil can wound. The Provinces should 
understand and respond to this favourable change, and 
not show themselves more slack than their ancestors 
were, under far more burdensome conditions. Your 
Diligence has now collected both these taxes 2 at the 
appointed periods ; and I am glad of it, that my 

1 Sept. i, 534. The reading 'de tertiae decimae Indictionis rationibus' 
seems required by the sense, instead of ' tertiam de decimae Indictionis 
rationibus.' It is quite clear that Cassiodorus was not Praetorian Praefect 
at the tenth Indiction. 

2 ' Ambos titulos.' 

Book XI. Letters 39-40. 485 

countrymen, who have served alien magistrates with 
praiseworthy diligence, might not seem negligent under 
my rule. These Provinces, which I, my grandfather, 
and my great-grandfather have benefited as private 
persons, I have endeavoured to help yet more earnestly 
while I bore the majesty of the fasces, that they who 
have rejoiced in my exaltation might see that I still 
retained my love for our common country. Let them 
pay the tax then, not from fear but from love. 
I have prevailed on the royal generosity to limit its 
amount ; for whereas it used to be 1,200 solidi 
annually, it is henceforward to be 1,000 [6oo] V 


'All the year we are bound to tread in the path of General 
Justice, but on this day we secure our approach to the tt 
Redeemer by the path of Forgiveness. Therefore we 
forswear punishments of all kinds, we condemn the 
torture, and thus feel ourselves, in forgiving, to be more 
truly than ever a Judge. 

' Hail to thee, O Clemency 2 , patroness of the human 
race! thou reignest in the heavens and on the earth: 
and most fitting is it that, at sacred seasons like this, 
thou shouldest be supreme. 

'Therefore, O Lictor, thou who art allowed to do 
with impunity the very thing for which other men 
are punished, put up thy axe ; let it be henceforth 
bright, not bloody. Let the chains which have been 
so often wet with tears now grow rusty. The prison 
that house of Pluto, in which men suffer a living death, 
from its foul odours, from the sound of groaning which 

1 This sum seems ridiculously small for the Province of Bruttii. Can 
it be the sum assessed on each district ? 

2 * Indulgentia.' 

486 Cassiodori Variae. 

assails their ears, from the long fastings which destroy 
their taste, from the heavy weights which weary their 
hands, from the endless darkness which makes their 
eyes grow dim let the prison now be filled with 
emptiness. Never is it so popular as when it is seen 
to be deserted. 

'And you, its denizens, who are thus in a manner 
transplanted to Heaven from Hell, avoid the evil courses 
which made you acquainted with its horrors. Even 
animals shun the things which they have once found 
harmful. Cattle which have once fallen into a pit seek 
not again the same road. The bird once snared shuns 
bird-lime. The pike buries himself in deep sand, that 
he may escape the drag-net, and when it has scraped 
his back leaps nimbly into the waves and expresses 
by his gambols his joy for his deliverance. When the 
wrasse l finds that he is caught in an osier trap, he moves 
himself slowly backwards till he can leave his tail 
protruding, that one of his fellows, perceiving his 
capture, may pull him out from his prison. 

' So too the Sauri (?), a clever race of fish, named from 
their speed, when they have swum into a net, tie them- 
selves together into a sort of rope ; and then, tugging 
backwards with all their might, seek to liberate their 

'Many facts of the same kind would be discovered 
on enquiry. But my discourse must return to thee, 
Gaoler. Thou wilt be miserable in the general joy, 
because thou art wont to derive thy gladness from the 
affliction of many. But as some consolation for thy 
groans, we leave to thee those prisoners whom the 
Law, for very pity's sake, cannot set free the men 
found guilty of outrageous crimes, whose liberation 
would make barbarous deeds frequent. Over these thou 
mayest still exert thy power.' 

1 'Scarus.' 




' IT is generally supposed that long attendance at the General 
Courts of Law increases the love of justice. The charac- J^sTo 
ter of the Judge also is in some degree estimated by the Can- 
that of his officers 1 , as that of a philosophical teacher ce 
by his disciples. Thus your bad actions might endanger 
our reputation, while, on the other hand, with no 
effort on our part, we earn glory from all that you do 
well. Beware, therefore, lest by any misconduct of yours, 
which is sure to be exaggerated by popular rumour, 
you rouse anger in us, who as your Judge will be sure 
to exact stem recompence for all the wrong you have 

j done to our reputation. Study this rather, that you 

i may receive praise and promotion at our hands, and go 
forth, with Divine help, on this Indiction, to such and 

, such a Province, adorned with the pomp of the Cancelli, 
and girt about with a certain proud gravity. Kemember 
the honour of the fasces which are borne before you, of 

j the Praetorian seat whose commands you execute. 

1 Per milites suos judex intelligitur.' 

488 Cassiodori Variae. 

' Fly Avarice, the Queen of all the vices, who never 
enters the human heart alone, but always brings a 
nattering and deceiving train along with her. Show 
yourself zealous for the public good ; do more by reason 
than by terror. Let your person be a refuge for the 
oppressed, a defence of the weak, a stronghold for him 
who is stricken down by any calamity. Never do you 
more truly discharge the functions of the Cancelli than 
when you open the prison doors to those who have been 
unjustly confined.' 

OF THE PKOVINCES (A.D. 534-535). 

General * God be thanked, the Provincials have attended to 
tionsTo a ^ mv admonitions, and I have kept all my promises 
the Pro- to them. You, as Judges, have admirably copied my 
Gover- own freedom from corruption, and I can only desire 
nors - that you will go on as you have begun. 

* Let the peasant pay cheerfully his share of the public 
taxes, and I on my part will guarantee him the adminis- 
tration of justice in the courts 1 . 

* It was evidently the intention of the legislators that 
you should be imitators of our dignity, since they have 
given you almost the same jurisdiction in the Provinces 
as ourselves. 

' What avails the reputation of being a rich man ? It 
confers no glory. But to be known as a just man 
wins the praise of all. Nothing mean or avaricious is 
becoming in a Judge. All his faults are made more 
conspicuous by his elevation. Better were it to be 
absolutely unknown, than to be marked out for the 
scorn of all men. Let us keep our own brows clear 
from shame ; then can we rebuke the sins of others. 

1 ' Possessor mihi publicas pecunias libens inferat : ego illi iu conventua 
justitiae tributa persolvam.' 

Book XII. Letters 2-3. 489 

A terrible leveller is iniquity: it makes the Judge 
himself feel like the culprit who is tried before him. 
All these considerations, according to my custom, I 
bring before you in this my yearly address, since it is 
impossible ever to have too much of a good thing l . 

'Now, to proceed to business. Do you and your 
official staff impress upon all the cultivators of the 
soil the absolute necessity of their paying their land- 
tax 2 for this thirteenth Indiction 3 at the appointed time. 
Let there be no pressing them to pay before the time, 
and no venal connivance at their postponement of pay- 
ment after the time. What kindness is there in delay ? 
The money must be paid, sooner or later. 

'Prepare also a full and faithful statement of the 
expenditure for every four months 4 , and address it to 
our bureaux 5 , that there may be perfect clearness in 
the public accounts. 

' In order to help you, we send A and B, members 
of our official staff, to examine your accounts. See 
that you come up to the standard of duty here pre- 
scribed for you.' 



'There must be fear of the magistrate in the heart of General 
the citizen, else the laws would never be obeyed. But 

as in medicine various remedies are required by various to the 
constitutions, so in the administration of the laws some- 
times force and sometimes gentleness has to be used. 

1 ' Haec nos ammo sermone convenit loqui : quia bonarum rerum nulla 
satietas est.' 

2 ' Trina Illatio.' 

3 Sept. i, 534, to Sept. I, 535. 

4 ' Expensarum fidelem notitiam quaternis mensibus comprehensam. 
As the receipts of the Trina Illatio had to be gathered in every four 
months, the account of Provincial expenditure covered the same period. 

5 ' Ad scrinia nostra dirigere maturabis.' 

490 Cassiodori Variae. 

Wisdom is required to decide which is the best mode of 
dealing with each particular case. 

'Therefore we despatch your Devotion 1 to attend 
upon A B, Clarissimus Cancellarius. Be terrible to 
the lawless, but to them alone. Above all things see 
to the punctual collection of the taxes. Do not study 
popularity. Attend only to those cases which are en- 
trusted to your care, and work them thoroughly. No 
greater disgrace can attach to an officer of Court than 
that a Judge's sentence should be left unexecuted 2 . Do 
not swagger through the streets exulting in the fact that 
nobody dares meet you. Brave men are ever gentle in 
time of peace, and there is no greater lover of justice 
than he who has seen many battles. When you return 
to your parents and friends let it not be brawls that you 
have to boast of, but good conduct. We also shall in that 
case welcome you back with pleasure, and not leave you 
long without another commission. And the King too, 
the lord of all 3 , will entrust higher duties to him who 
returns from the lower with credit and the reward of a 
good conscience/ 


Praise of l A well furnished royal table is a credit to the State. 

chm^a" A private person may eat only the produce of his own 

red wine district ; but it is the glory of a King to collect at his 

rona." table the delicacies of all lands. Let the Danube send 

us her carp, let the anchorago (?) come from the Rhine, 

let the labour of Sicily furnish the exormiston 5 , let the 

sea of Bruttii send its sweet acerniae (?) ; in short, let 

1 ' Devotio tua ' was the technical way of addressing the fortis Sajo. 

2 ' In executore illud est pessimum, si judicis relinquat arbitrium.' 

3 ' Rerum Dominus.' 
* Revenue-officer. 

5 'Perhaps a kind of lamprey' (White and Riddle's Latin-English 

Book XII. Letter 4. 491 

well-flavoured dishes be gathered from all coasts. It 
becomes a King so to regale himself that he may seem 
to foreign ambassadors to possess almost everything. 

'And therefore, not to neglect home-produce also, as 
our fertile Italy is especially rich in wines, we must have 
these also provided for the King's table. Now the report 
of the Count of the Patrimony informs us that the stock 
of Acinaticium * has fallen very low in the royal cellars. 
We therefore order you to visit the cultivators of 
Verona, and offer them a sufficient price for this product 
of theirs, which they ought to offer without price to their 

' It is in truth a noble wine and one that Italy may 
be proud of. Inglorious Greece may doctor her wines 
with foreign admixtures, or disguise them with perfumes. 
There is no need of any such process with this liquor. 
It is purple, as becomes the wine of kings. Sweet and 
strong 2 , it grows more dense in tasting it, so that you 
might doubt whether it was a liquid food or an edible 
drink 3 . 

'I have a mind to describe the singular mode of 
manufacturing this wine. The grape cluster, gathered in 
autumn, is hung up under the roof of the house to dry till 
December. Thus exuding its insipid humours it becomes 
much sweeter. Then in December, when everything else 
is bound by the frost of winter, the chilly blood of these 
grapes is allowed to flow forth. It is not insultingly 
trodden down by the feet, nor is any foul admixture 
suffered to pollute it ; its stream of gem-like clearness 
is drawn forth from it by a noble provocation. It seems 
to shed tears of joy, and delights the eye by its beauty 
as much as the palate by its flavour. Collect this wine 
as speedily as possible, pay a sufficient price for it, and 

1 Apparently a kind of raisin wine ; from acina, a grape or berry. 

2 What are we to make of ' Stipsis nescio qua firmitate roboratur ? ' 

3 ' Tactus ejus densitate pinguescit : ut dicaa esse aut carneum liquorem 
aut edibilem potionem.' Questionable praise, according to the ideas of a 
modern wine-grower. 

492 Cassiodori Variae. 

hand it over to the Cartarii who are charged with this 

'And this point is not to be forgotten, that it is to 
be served up in goblets of a milky whiteness. Lilies 
and roses thus unite their charms, and a pleasure is 
ministered to the eye, far beyond the mere common- 
place facts that the wine has a pleasant taste, and that 
it restores the strength of the drinker. 

'We rely on you to provide both the wine and the 
drinking vessels 1 with all despatch.' 


[Written probably in the autumn or winter of 535, 
when Belisarius was in Sicily threatening the Southern 
Provinces of Italy.] 
Measnres ' The ruler's anxiety for the common good of all over 
whom he is placed, may allowably show itself in an 

cania and especial manner towards the dwellers in his own home, 
and that pre-eminently at a time when they need his 
succour from peril. 

' The numerous army which was destined for the 
defence of the Republic is said to have laid waste the 
cultivated parts of Lucania and Bruttii, and to have 
diminished the abundance of those regions by its love 
of rapine. 

' Now since they must take and you must give, and 
since the cultivator must not be robbed nor the army 
starved, know that the prices of provisions are fixed by 
the order of the Lord of the State at a much lower figure 
than you have been wont to sell at 2 . 

1 We might have expected to find wine-bottles rather than wine-glasses 
thus requisitioned ; but I think the words of Cassiodorus, ' quod lacteo 
poculo relucescit,' oblige us to adopt the latter translation. 

2 'Pretia quae antiquus ordo constituit ex jussione rerum Domini cog- 
noscite temperata, ut multo arctius quam vendere solebatis in assem 
publicum praebita debeant imputari.' 

Book XII. Letter 5. 493 

'Be not therefore anxious. You have escaped the 
hands of the tax-collector. The present instrument 
takes away from you the liability to tribute. In order 
that your knowledge may be made more complete, we 
have thought it better that the amounts of the provisions 
for which you are held responsible should be expressed 
in the below- written letters x , that no one may sell you 
a benefit which you know to be conferred by the public 

'Repress, therefore, the unruly movements of the 
cultivators 2 . While the Gothic army is fighting, let 
the Roman peasant enjoy in quiet the peace for which 
he sighs. According to the King's command, admonish 
the several tenants on the farms, and the better sort of 
peasants, not to mingle in the barbarism of the strife, 
lest the danger to public tranquillity be greater than any 
service they can render in the wars 3 . Let them lay 
hands to the iron, but only to cultivate their fields; let 
them grasp the pointed steel, but only to goad their oxen. 

' Let the Judges be active : let the tribunals echo with 
their denunciations of crime. Let the robber, the adul- 
terer, the forger, the thief, find that the arm of the 
State is still strong to punish their crimes. True free- 
dom rejoices when these men are made sad. Here, in this 
civil battle, is full scope for your energies : attend to this, 
and enjoy the thought that others are fighting the battle 
with the foreign foe for you. 

1 'Sed quo facilius instrueretur vestra notitia, imputationum summas 
infra scriptis brevibus credidimus exprimendas? Apparently the ordinary 
taxes for the two Provinces are remitted, but a certain quantity of provi- 
sions has to be furnished to the army, perhaps by each township ; and besides 
this, the commissariat officers have a right of pre-emption at prices consider- 
ably below the market rate. 

2 ' Continete ergo possessorum intemperantes motus.' 

3 ' Ex Regia jussione singulos conductores massarum et possessores vali- 
dos admonete, ut nullam contrahant in concertatione barbariem: ne non 
tantum festinent bellis prodesse quantum quiete confundere.' Evidently 
the rustics are dissuaded from taking up arms lest they should use them on 
the side of Belisarius. 

494 Cassiodori Variae. 

s Exercise great care in calculating the rations of the 
soldiers, that no trickery may succeed in defrauding the 
soldier of his due. 

' The officers of the army are by the rulers of the State 
placed under my authority, and you are therefore to ad- 
monish them if they go wrong, while redressing all their 
real grievances. They, in their turn, must uphold dis- 
cipline, which is the most powerful weapon of an army. 
Rise to the dignity of the occasion, and show that you 
are able to govern a Province in a disturbed condition of 
public affairs, since anyone can govern it while all 
things are quiet. 

' The royal household is specially ordered to pay the 
same obedience to this rescript as all the rest of the Pro- 
vince; and as for my own dependants, I say expressly 
that, though I wish them well, I ask for no favour for 
them which I would not grant to all the other inha- 
bitants of the Province.' 


General * The exhortations addressed to you by the inborn 
f our Lords ought to suffice; but nevertheless, 

subordi- that we may be doubly assured, we will address to you 
vernors. our threats against all who shall wield their power un- 
righteously. Cease from avarice, from arrogance, from 
venality. What will your money avail you when the 
day of inquisition comes ? We shall not be tempted by 
it. Let it be clearly understood that we shall not sell 
pardons to unjust Judges, but shall hunt them to their 

* But all you, good and honest rulers, continue to serve 
the State without fear. No rival will buy your offices 
over your heads ; you are secure in your seats so long as 

1 ' Universis Praefecturae titulos administrantibus.' 

Book XII. Letters 6-8. 495 

you do well, until the time fixed by our Lords expires. 
Be earnest, therefore, that my good deeds may be imi- 
tated and receive their due meed of praise in your 


c A good Sovereign will always exert himself to repair Kemis- 
fortuitous disasters, and will allow those who have paid ^son 
their taxes punctually in prosperity, considerable liberty account 
in times of barbaric invasion. On this ground, and on g^by" 
account of the incursions of the Suevi, the King grants theSuevi. 
for this year, the fifteenth Indiction 2 , a discharge of all 
claims by the Fiscus preferred against A and B. And 
in all similar cases where you shall be satisfied that the 
property has really been laid waste by those Barbarians, 
you are at liberty to remit the taxes for this Indic- 
tion. Afterwards you will use all the ordinary methods, 
in order that you may be able to pay over the stipulated 
sum to the Royal Treasurer. But meanwhile the poor 
cultivator has the best of all arguments against paying 
you, namely, that he has nothing left him wherewith to 
pay. Thus is his calamity his best voucher for payment 3 ; 
and we do not wish that he who has been already 
alarmed by the arms of the robber should further 
tremble at the official robe of the civil servant V 


1 It is a new and delightful kind of profit to be able pay taxes 

to grant the request of a petitioner without feeling any 

loss oneself. The present suitor, complaining that he is Treasury. 

1 ' Canonicario Venetiarum.' 

a Sept. i, 536, to Sept. i, 537. 

3 ' Validaa contra te apochas invenerunt.' 

* ' Chlamydes non pavescant, qui anna timuerunt.' 

496 Cassiodori Variae. 

vexed by the exactions of the tax-gatherer on account of 
certain farms mentioned in the subjoined letter, offers to 
bring the amount due from them himself to our Trea- 
surers 1 . We are willing to grant this request, on condi- 
tion that the Fiscus does not suffer thereby; and therefore 
desire your Respectability to warn all Curiales, Compul- 
sores, and all other persons concerned, to remove for this 
Indiction every kind of legal process from the before- 
mentioned properties ; the condition of this immunity 
being that he shall, before the kalends of such and such 
a month produce the receipts 2 of the A rcarius, showing 
that he has discharged his debt to the State. Otherwise 
the debt must be exacted by ordinary process. But it is 
delightful to us whenever the tax is paid without calling 
in the aid of the Compulsor. Would that the peasant 
would always thus freely anticipate the needs of the 
Treasury ! ' 


African [To make this letter intelligible we must presuppose a 

succeed^ cus ^ om > certainly a very extraordinary one, by which 

to estate on the death of an African without heirs, any other 

intestate African in Italy was allowed to claim the inheritance. 

country- By < African,' no doubt, we must understand one of the 

indigenous inhabitants of Africa, perhaps a man of Negro 

race. The custom certainly cannot have applied to 

African Provincials of Roman descent. It was perhaps 

based on some old tribal notions of joint possession and 

mutual inheritance.] 

c It is a work of wondrous kindness to oblige a foreign 
race with public benefits, and not only to invite blood 
relations to enjoy the advantages of property, but to 
permit even strangers to share them. This kind of heir- 
ship is independent of the ties of kindred, independent 

1 ' Arcarii.' 2 ' Apochae.' 3 ' Praefectus Annonae.' 

Book XII. Letters 9-10. 497 

of succession from parents, and requires nothing else 
save only power to utter the speech of the fatherland. 

' This is the privilege which, as the African asserts, 
was of old bestowed on his race. By virtue thereof they 
lawfully demand the inheritance of others, and thus 
obtain a right which the Roman in a similar case could 
never claim. Nor have they this benefit in their own 
land; but here they are for this purpose looked upon 
as all related to one another. 

' The whole nation, in what relates to the advantages 
of succession, is regarded as one family. 

' Your Experience is therefore to submit the subject of 
this man's petition to a diligent examination, and if it 
shall turn out, as he alleges, that the deceased has left 
no sons nor other persons who might reasonably claim to 
succeed him, your official staff is to induct him into the 
aforesaid property according to the established usage. 

* He will thus cease to be a foreigner, and will acquire 
the status of a native possessor, and therewith the usual 
liability to pay tribute. He is inferior to other owners 
only in this one point, that he lacks the power of alien- 
ating his property. Let him who has derived so much 
benefit from our commiseration now relieve others. For- 
tunate and enviable has turned out his captivity 1 , which 
enables him at one and the same time to enjoy the 
citizenship of Rome and the privileges of the African.' 


'Arrears of tribute are like bodily diseases, serious 
and enfeebling when they become chronic. A man enforced. 

1 ' Felix illi contigit et praedicanda captivitas.' A little before, we read, 
'Kesumat facultatem quam se suspiraverat amississe.' These sentences 
suggest the idea that the petitioner had been brought over in the train of 
the lately deceased person as a slave. This a little lessens the difficulty of 
his being admitted to the inheritance. Compare Gen. xv. 3, where Abra- 
ham, before the birth of a son, says, 'And one born in my house' (i.e. a 
slave) ' is mine heir.' 


498 Cassiodori Variae. 

who is under a load of debt cannot be called free : he 
has abandoned the power of controlling his actions to 
another. Your supposed indulgence to the taxpayer 
is no real kindness. There comes a time when the whole 
arrear of debt has to be claimed, and then these venal de- 
lays of yours make the demand seem twice as heavy in 
the eyes of the unfortunate taxpayer. Cease then to trade 
upon the peasants' losses. Exact the whole amount 
of taxes for the coming Indiction, and pay them in on 
the appointed day to the Treasurer 1 of the Province; 
or else it will be the worse for you, and you will have 
to return, stripped of all official rank 2 , into the Province 
which you are conscious of having badly administered. 

*I shall not speak again on this subject, but shall, 
if necessary, extract the sums from you by an irre- 
vocable act of distraint.' 


Distri- * The liberality of a good Sovereign must not be dis- 
relishes^ cre( ^ e d. by fraud and carelessness in the person charged 
toKoman with its distribution. Even molten gold contracts a 
ci izens. s ^ a i n if no p Oure( j i n to an absolutely clean vessel. 
How sweet is it to see a stream flowing clear and un- 
polluted over a snow-white channel ! Even so must you 
see that the gifts of the Sovereign of the State reach 
the Roman people as pure and as copious as they issue 
forth from him. 

'All fraud is hateful; but fraud exercised upon the 
people of Romulus is absolutely unbearable. That quiet 
and easily satisfied people, whose existence you might 
forget except when they testify their happiness by 
their shouts ; noisy without a thought of sedition ; whose 

1 'Arcarius.' 2 'Degei 

3 ' Erogatori obsoniorum.' 

Book XII. Letters 11-12. 499 

only care is to shun poverty without amassing wealth ; 
lowly in fortune but rich in temper it is a kind of pro- 
fanation to rob such people as these. 

' We therefore entrust to you the task of distributing 
the relishes 1 to the Koman people from this Indiction. 
Be true to the citizens, else you will become as an 
alien unto us. Do not be bribed into allowing any- 
one to pass as a Latin who was not born in Latium. 

'These privileges belong to the Quirites alone: no 
slave must be admitted to share them. That man sins 
against the majesty of the Koman people, who defiles the 
pure river of their blood by thrusting upon them the 
fellowship of slaves.* 


' When we were dining, according to our wonted cus- Praise 
torn, with the Sovereign of the State 2 , the conversation tees ^ 
happened to turn upon the delicacies of various Pro- and wine 

P -13 f-fii 

vinces, and we praised the wines of Bruttii and the 
cheese of the district around Mount Sila 3 . 

' The cheese, which retains in its pores the milk which 
has been collected there, recalls by its taste the fragrant 
herbs upon which the cattle have fed; by its texture 
it reminds us of the softness of oil, from which it dif- 
fers in colour by its snowy whiteness. Having been 
carefully pressed into a wide cask and hardened therein, 

1 'Obsonia.' 

2 ' Cum apud rerum Dominum solemni more pranderemus.' 

3 ' Silanum.' Mount Sila is a range of hills in Calabria immediately to 
the north of Squillace, forty miles from north to south, and twenty miles 
from east to west, and occupying the whole of the projecting portion of the 

: south-east side of Italy between the Gulf of Squillace and the Bay of 

Taranto. The highest peaks, which are about 5,700 feet high, are covered 

1 with snow during half the year. It is said that from the beginning of 

I June till far on into October, 15,000 head of cattle and 150,000 sheep, 

I besides horses and mules, graze in these uplands. (See Gsel-Fells : Unter 

Italien, p. 721.) 

K k 2 

500 Cassiodori Variae. 

it retains permanently the beautiful round shape which 
has thus been given to it 1 . 

'The wine, to which Antiquity gave the name of 
praise, Palmatiana, must be selected not of a rough but 
sweet kind 2 . Though last [in geographical position] 
among the wines of Bruttii, it is by general opinion 
accounted the best, equal to that of Gaza, similar to the 
Sabine, moderately thick, strong, brisk, of conspicuous 
whiteness, distinguished by the fine aroma, of which a 
pleasant after-taste is perceived by the drinker 3 . It 
constrains loosened bowels, dries up moist wounds, and 
refreshes the weary breast. 

'Let it be your care to provide as speedily as pos- 
sible a stock of both these products of our country, 
and send them in ships to the Royal residence. For a 
temporary supply we have drawn on our own cellars, 
but we look to you to choose specimens of the genuine 
quality for the King. We cannot be deceived, who 
retain the true taste in our patriotic memory; and at 
your peril will you provide any inferior article to that 
which our cellars will have supplied V 

ted by the 

revenue I o AN EDICT, 


Churches * The generous gifts of Kings ought to be respected 

cania. ' Long ago the constitutions of the Emperors enriched 

1 From the description of Cassiodorus, it seems to have been a kind of 
cream cheese. 

2 * Non stipsi asperum sed gratum suavitate perquire.' The same peculiar 
word, stipsis, which we had in Letter xii. 4. What meaning are we to 
assign to the word ? 

3 ' Magnis odoribus singulare : quod ita redolet ore ructatum ut merito 
illi a palma nomen videatur impositum.' 

* ' Baronius (Ad Ann. 591) quotes this letter of Cassiodorus to explain an 
allusion in the life of Pope Gregory the Great, who refused to receive a 
present of 'Palmatiana' from the Bishop of Messina, and insisted 
paying for it. 

Book XII. Letters 13-14. 501 

the holy Churches of Bruttii and Lucania with certain 
gifts. But since the sacrilegious mind is not afraid of 
sinning against the Divine reverence, the Canonicarii 
(officers of the Exchequer) ha^&4*&teLiJiee_C^^ 
cal positions ofjijsgrtain portion of their reye^uejn^e 
name of theTNumerarii of the Praetorian Praefect's staff; 
but these latter, with righteous indignation, declare that 
they have received no part of the spoils thus impiously 
collected in their name. 

'Thus have the Canonicarii turned the property of 
the clergy into a douceur for the laity 1 . Oh, audacity 
of man ! what barriers can be erected against thee ? Thou 
mightest have hoped to escape human observation, 
but why commit crimes which the Divinity cannot but 
notice ? 

' Therefore we ordain by this edict that anyone who 
shall hereafter commit this kind of fraud shall lose his 
own private gains, and shall forfeit his place in the 
public service 2 . 

' Let the poor keep the gifts which God has put it into 
the heart of Kings to bestow upon them. It is cruel 
above all other cruelty to wish to become rich by means 
of the scanty possessions of the mendicant.' 


' The citizens of Rhegium (so called from the Greek Plea for 
word priyvvpi, to break, because their island has been treat- 6 
broken off from Sicily by the violence of the waves) ^^ r 
complain that they are being unfairly harassed by the O f Khe- 
tax-gatherers. I, as an eyewitness, can confirm the truth 

1 ' Facientes laicum commodum substantiam clericorum.' 

2 ' Edictali programmate definimus, ut qui in hac fuerit ulterius fraude 
versatus et militia careat et compendium propriae facultatis amittat.' The 
last clause is perhaps purposely vague. We should have expected to hear 
something about restitution, but the words will not bear that meaning. 

502 Cassiodori Variae. 

of their statement that their territory does not bring 
forth the produce which is claimed at their hands. 
It is a rocky and mountainous country, too dry for 
pasture, though sufficiently undulating for vineyards ; 
bad for grain-crops, though well suited for olives. 
The shade has to be all provided by the industry of 
man, who has planted there the tree of Pallas [the 
olive], which prospers in even the driest soil, because 
it sends its roots down into the very depths of the 

' The corn has to be watered by hand, like pot-herbs in 
a garden. You seldom see the husbandman bending 
beneath his load as he returns from the threshing-floor. 
A few bushels full are all that he can boast of, even in 
an abundant harvest l . 

' Contrary to the opinion of Virgil [who speaks of 
the bitter roots of the endive 2 ], the fibres of endive 
are here extremely sweet, and encircled by their 
twisting leaves are caked together with a certain callous 
tenderness 3 . 

' In the treasures of the deep that region is certainly 
rich; for the Upper and Lower Sea meet there. The 
exormiston*, a sort of king among fishes, with bristly 
nostrils and a milky delicacy of flavour, is found in these 
waters. In stormy weather it is tossed about on the top 
of the waves, and seems to be too tired or too indolent to 

1 I do not understand the following sentences : ' In hortis autem rusti- 

corum agmen habetur operosum : quia olus illic omne saporum est marina 

irroratione respersum. Quod humana industrial fieri consuevit, hoc cum 

nutriretur accepit.' Can they have watered any herbs with salt water ? 

3 'Nee tamen, haec quum sint hominumque boumque labores 

Versando terrain experti, nihil improbus anser, 

Strymoniaeque grues, et amaris intuba Jtbris 

Officiunt.' Georgic i. 118-121. 

3 I must renounce the attempt to translate the rest of the sentence: 
' Unde in morem nitri aliquid decerptum frangitur, dum a fecundo cespite 
segregatur.' There is an alternative reading, vitri for nitri ; but I am still 
unable to understand the author's meaning. 

4 Apparently a kind of lamprey. See the fourth letter of this book. 



Book XII. Letters 14-15. 503 

seek a refuge in the deeper water J . No other fish can 
be compared to it in sweetness 2 . 

'These are the products I speak from my own know- 
ledge of the Rhegian shore. Therefore you must not 
seek to levy a tribute of wheat or lard from the inha- 
bitants under the name of " coemptio." 

' I may add that they are so troubled by the constant 
passage of travellers entering Italy or leaving it, that it 
would have been right to excuse them even if those pro- 
ducts had been found there in abundance V 


' Scyllacium, the first city of Bruttii, which Ulysses the Praises 
destroyer of Troy is believed to have founded, is said author's 
to be unreasonably vexed by the exorbitant demands *>irth- 
of purveyors 5 . These injuries grieve us all the more scyiia- 
on account of our patriotic love for the place. cium, 

' The city of Scyllacium, which is so placed as to look 
down upon the Hadriatic Gulf, hangs upon the hills 
like a cluster of grapes: not that it may pride itself 
upon their difficult ascent, but that it may voluptuously 
gaze on verdant plains and the blue back of the sea. 
The city beholds the rising sun from its very cradle, 
when the day that is about to be born sends forward 

1 Perhaps Cassiodorus means to say this makes it more easy of capture, 
but he does not say so. 

2 The praises of the exormiston are not only foreign to the main subject 
of the letter, but to a certain extent weaken the writer's argument on behalf 
of his countrymen ; but, as a good Bruttian, he cannot help vaunting the 
products of his country. 

3 The passage to and fro of travellers no doubt brought with it burden- 
some duties for the inhabitants in connection with the Cursus Pullicus. 
It was therefore a reason for mitigating other taxes. 

* This letter, being the description by Cassiodorus of his native place, is 
translated entire. 

5 ' Irrationabiliter dicitur praesumentium nimietate vexari.' 

504 Cassiodori Variae. 

no heralding Aurora ; but as soon as it begins to rise, 
the quivering brightness displays its torch. It beholds 
Phoebus in his joy; it is bathed in the brightness of 
that luminary, so that it might be thought to be itself 
the native land of the sun, the claims of Rhodes to that 
honour being outdone. 

'It enjoys a translucent air, but withal so temperate 
that its winters are sunny, and its summers cool ; and 
life passes there without sorrow, since hostile seasons 
are feared by none. Hence, too, man himself is here 
freer of soul than elsewhere, for this temperateness of 
the climate prevails in all things. 

'In sooth, a hot fatherland makes its children sharp 
and fickle, a cold one slow and sly ; it is only a tem- 
perate climate which composes the characters of men by 
its own moderation. Hence was it that the ancients 
pronounced Athens to be the seat of sages, because, 
enriched with an air of the greatest purity, it prepared 
with glad liberality the lucid intellects of its sons for 
the contemplative part of life. Assuredly for the body 
to imbibe muddy waters is a different thing from suck- 
ing in the transparency of a sweet fountain. Even so 
the vigour of the mind is repressed when it is clogged 
by a heavy atmosphere. Nature herself hath made us 
subject to these influences. Clouds make us feel sad; 
and again a bright sky fills us with joy, because the 
heavenly substance of the soul delights in everything 
that is unstained and pure. 

' Scyllaciurn has also an abundant share of the deli- 
cacies of the sea, possessing near it those gates of Nep- 
tune which we ourselves constructed. At the foot of 
the Moscian Mount we hollowed out the bowels of the 
rock, and tastefully 1 introduced therein the eddying 
waves of Nereus. Here a troop of fishes, sporting in 
free captivity, refreshes all minds with delight, and 
charms all eyes with admiration. They run greedily to 

1 'Decenter.' 

Book XII. Letter 15. 505 

the hand of man, and before they become his food seek 
dainties from him. Man feeds his own dainty morsels, 
and while he has that which can bring them into his 
power, it often happens that being already replete he 
lets them all go again. 

'The spectacle moreover of men engaged in honourable 
labour is not denied to those who are sitting tranquilly 
in the city. Plenteous vineyards are beheld in abun- 
dance. The fruitful toil of the threshing-floor is seen. 
The face of the green olive is disclosed. No one need 
sigh for the pleasures of the country, when it is given 
him to see them all from the town. 

'And inasmuch as it has now no walls, you believe 
Scyllacium to be a rural city, though you might judge 
it to be an urban villa; and thus placed between the 
two worlds of town and country, it is lavishly praised 
by both. 

'This place wayfarers desire frequently to visit, and 
as they object to the toil of walking, the citizens, called 
upon to provide them with post-horses, and rations for 
their servants, have to pay heavily in purse for the 
pleasantness of their city. Therefore to prevent this, 
for the future we decide that all charges for providing 
post-horses and rations shall be debited to the public 
account. We cut up, root and branch, the system of 
paying Pulveratica * to the Judge ; and we decide, 
according to ancient custom, that rations for three 
days only shall be given on their arrival to the great 
Dignitaries of the State, and that any more prolonged 
delay in their locomotion be provided for by them- 

' To relieve your city of its heaviest burdens will be, 
according to our injunctions, an act of judicial impartial- 
ity, not of laxity. Live, by God's help, a mirror of the 
justice of the age, delighting in the security of all. 
Some people call the Isles of the Atlantic ' Fortunate :' I 

1 Dust-money. 

506 Cassiodori Variae. 

would rather give that name to the place where you 
do now dwell.' 



[This interesting letter is one of the few written by 
Cassiodorus as Praetorian Praefect which we can dat 
with certainty. It is written apparently at the begin- 
ning of the first Indiction, i.e. Sept. i, 537. 
and the Goths have been for nearly six months besieg- 
ing Rome, and are beginning to be discouraged as 
its capture. Cassiodorus is probably at Ravenna. dire< 
ing the machine of government from that capital.] 
Payment 'Time, which adapts itself incessantly to the coi 
Iiiatio. of human affairs, and reconciles us even to adversity 2 
has brought round again the period for collecting tht 
Trina Ulatio from the taxpayer. Let the peasant (pc 
sessor) pay in your Diocese, for this first Indiction, 
instalment of the tax freely, not being urged too sooi 
nor allowed to postpone it too late, so that he 
plead that he has been let off from payment 3 . Let noi 
exceed the fair weight, but let him use a just pound: 
if once the true weight is allowed to be exceeded, the 
is no limit to extortion 4 . 

'Let a faithful account of the expenses of collectic 
be rendered every four months to our office 5 , that, 
error and obscurity being removed, truth may be manife 
in the public accounts. 

' That you may, with God's help, be the better able 
to fulfil our instructions, I have ordered A and B, ser- 

1 ' Canonicario.' 

2 'Dum res nobis etiam asperas captata semper opinione conciliat.' 
Apparently a veiled allusion to the disasters of the Goths. 

3 ' Nee iterum remissione lentata quisquam se dicat esse praeteritum.' 

* This mention of the just weight of course suits a tax paid in kind, not 
in money. 

5 * Expensarum quoque fidelem notitiam per quaternos menses ad scrinia 
nostra solemniter destinabis.' 

Book XII. Letters 16-18. 507 

vants of our tribunal, who are mindful of their own 
past responsibilities, to assist you and your staff 1 . Be- 
ware therefore, lest you incur the blame of corruptly 
discharging the taxpayer, or of sluggish idleness in the 
discharge of your duties, in which case your own fortunes 
will suffer from your neglect.' 


' In times of peace, by contact with foreigners who Defence 
swarm in our cities, we learn what will be our best of Ra ~ 


defence in war. Who can tell with what nation we 
may be next at war? Therefore, to be on the safe side, 
make such preparations as our future enemies, whosoever 
they may be, will dislike to hear of. Accordingly you 
are to order the peasants to dig a series of pits with 
wide mouths near the mountains of Caprarius and the 
parts round about the walls 3 ; and let such a chasm 
yawn there that there shall be no possibility of entrance 
that way. 

' If strangers want to enter the city, why do they not 
enter it in the right way by the gates instead of going 
skulking about these bye-paths? Henceforth, anyone 
trying to take any such short cut to our city will 
probably find that he loses his life in consequence V 




' Great is the reward of those who serve Kings Way. 

1 ' Ulum atque ilium sedis nostrae milites, tibi officioque tuo periculorum 
Buorum memores praecipimus imminere/ 

2 Collector of the Siliquaticum, or tax of one twenty-fourth on sales. 
See ii. 30, iii. 25, iv. 19. 

3 No doubt the walls of Kavenna. I cannot identify the Mons Caprarius. 
The name Caprera is a common one in Italy. 

* One may conjecture that this letter was written in 535, when war 
with the Empire was imminent, but before it was actually declared. 

508 Cassiodori Variae. 

efficiently; as severe is the punishment of those who 
neglect their duties towards them. 

'How delightful is it to journey without obstacles 
over a well-made road 1 , to pass doubtful places with- 
out fear, to ascend mountainous steeps by a gentle 
incline, to have no fear of the planking of a bridge 
when one crosses it 2 , and in short to accomplish one's 
journey so that everything happens to one's liking! 

' This is the pleasure which you can now prepare for 
your Sovereign. Therefore, as the Flaminian Way is 
furrowed by the action of torrents, join the yawning 
chasms by the broadest of bridges ; clear away the rough 
woods which choke the sides of the highway ; procure 
the stipulated number of post-horses, and see that they 
have all the points which are required in a good steed ; 
collect the designated quantities of provisions without 
plundering the peasants. A failure in any one of these 
particulars will ruin your whole service. 
Supply of ' Collect, too, with the utmost diligence the spices 
are needed for the King's table. What avails 

King's it to have satisfied the army, if the King's own board 
lack proper care. Let all the Provincials attend to 
your admonitions : let the cities furnish the stores set 
forth in the accompanying letters. Then, when they 
have put the Sovereign in a good humour, they may ask 
him for benefits to some purpose. 

' Think of me as present and as judging of all your 
deeds. I shall have to bear the blame of your failures 
at Court; so act rather as to set my mind at rest, to 
cover me and yourselves with glory, and to entitle 
me to receive on your behalf the thanks of the whole 

[This letter was probably written in the autumn of 
535, when Theodahad was preparing to march to Rome. 

1 'Videre judicia diligentia.' I leave this clause untranslated, as I 
cannot understand it. 

2 ' In pontibus contrabium non tremere.' 


Book XII. Letters 18-19. 509 

The mention of the delicacies for the royal table sug- 
gests that that King, in addition to the other excellencies 
of his character, was probably an epicure.] 



'As all great events in Nature have their heralding Bridge 
signs, so is the approaching visit of the King announced 
to you even by the concourse of wayfarers to your City. Tiber. 
We, however, have to order you to clothe the waves 
of Tiber with a bridge [of boats]. The boat, thus used, 
is no longer moved by slowly hauled ropes, as it is 
wont to be. Fixed itself, it affords a means of transit 
to others. The joining of its planks gives the desired 
appearance of solidity ; all the terror of the waves is 
removed by its likeness to the land, and the traveller 
passing over it unharmed only wishes that the bridge 
were longer. 

' Let a safe bulwark of lattice-work shield the bridge 
on the right side and on the left. See that you give no 
cause for misadventure of any kind. You have a noble 
opportunity of distinguishing yourself in the presence of 
so many Senators and of the King himself, the rewarder 
of every well-done work. On the other hand, if you do 
it badly and put him out of humour, woe be unto you ! 

'We send A B, a servant of our Praefecture 1 , to 
assist you and your staff and bring us report of the 
accomplishment of the work; for so heavy is our re- 
sponsibility in this matter that we dare not leave any- 
thing to chance/ 

[The King whose advent to Rome is here announced 
may be Witigis, after his election in the plains of Regeta 
(August, 536). But the fact that he is apparently 
approaching Rome by the northern bank of the Tiber, 

1 ' Ilium sedis nostrae militem.' 

510 Cassiodori Variae. 

coupled with the directions in the preceding letter for 
the repair of the Flaminian Way, makes it more pro- 
bable that some visit of Theodahad (probably in the 
year 535), when he would come from Kavenna to Rome, 
is here in prospect.] 


Sacred ' You will remember, most faithful Sirs, that when the 
Agapetus, Pope of the City of Rome, was sent as 

gaged by ambassador to the Sovereign of the East 1 , he received 
Agapetus so many pounds of gold from you for the expenses of the 
to be <* j urne y> f r which he gave his bond 2 and deposited some 
to the of the Church plate as security 3 . The provident ruler 
o^the"^ 8 ^us ^ en ^ n * m mone y i n hi g necessity, and now, far more 
Papal gloriously, returns as a free gift those pledges which the 
Pope might well have thanked him for taking. 

' Therefore, in obedience to these instructions of ours, 
and fortified by the Royal order, do you return without 
any delay to the stewards 4 of the holy Apostle Peter 
the vessels of the saints together with the written obli- 
gation, that these things may be felt to be profitably 
restored and speedily granted, that the longed-for means 
of performing their world-famous ministrations may 
be replaced in the hands of the Levites. Let that be 
given back which was their own, since that is justly 
received back by way of largesse which the Priest had 
legally mortgaged. 

' Herein is the great example of King Alaric surpassed. 
He, when glutted with the spoil of Rome, having received 
the vessels of the Apostle Peter from his men, when he 

1 He was sent by Theodahad; entered Constantinople February 20, 536, 
and died there 2ist April of the same year. 

2 ' Facto pictacio.' 

3 ' Vasa sanctorum.' One would think this must refer to the vessels used 
in celebrating mass ; but I do not quite see how the meaning is to be got 
out of the words. 

4 'Actoribus.' 

Book XII. Letters 30-21. 511 

heard the story of their seizure, ordered them to be 
carried back across the sacred threshold, that so the 
remembrance of the cupidity of their capture might be 
effaced by the generosity of their restoration. 

'But our King, with religious purpose, has restored 
the vessels which had become his own by the law of 
mortgage. In recompense for such deeds frequent prayer 
ought to ascend, and Heaven will surely gladly grant 
the required return for such good actions V 

[There are in this letter several extremely obscure 
sentences as to the generosity of Theodahad. As the 
Papal journey was undertaken by Theodahad's orders, 
it was a piece of meanness, quite in keeping with that 
King's character, to treat the advance of money for the 
journey as a loan, and to insist on a bond and the 
deposit of the Church plate as a security for repayment. 
Cassiodorus evidently feels this ; and very probably the 
restoration of the vessels and the quittance of the debt 
had been insisted on by him. But the more he despises 
his master's shabbiness, the more he struggles through 
a maze of almost nonsensical sentences, to prove that 
he has committed some very glorious action in lending 
the money and then forgiving the debt.] 


* The Scribe's office is the great safeguard of the rights Duties of 
of all men. The evidence of ownership may be destroyed a Scnbe * 
by fire or purloined by dishonest men, but the State by 
making use of the Scribe's labours is able to make good 
the loss so sustained. The Scribe is more diligent in 
other men's business than they are in their own. His 

1 Baronius not unfairly argues that if the Koman See was so poor that 
the Church plate had to be pawned to provide for the Pope's journey to 
Constantinople, the wealth of the Pope cannot have largely contributed to 
that great increase of his influence which marked the early years of the 
Sixth Century. 

512 Cassiodori Variae. 

muniment-cliest is the refuge of all the oppressed, and 
the repository of the fortunes of all men 1 . 

' In testimony of your past integrity, and in the hope 
that no change will mar this fair picture, we appoint 
you to this honourable office. Remember that ancient 
Truth is committed to your keeping, and that it often 
really rests with you, rather than with the Judge, to 
decide the disputes of litigants. When your indisputable 
testimony is given, and when the ancient voice of char- 
ters proceeds from your sanctum, Advocates receive it 
with reverence, and suitors, even evil-intentioned men, 
are constrained into obedience. 

4 Banish, therefore, all thoughts of venality from your 
mind. The worst moth that gets into papers and de- 
stroys them is the gold of the dishonest litigant, who 
bribes the Scribes to make away with evidence which 
he knows to be hostile. Thus, then, be ready always to 
produce to suitors genuine old documents ; and, on the 
other hand, transcribe only, do not compose ancient 
proceedings 2 . Let the copy correspond to the original 
as the wax to the signet-ring, that as the face is the 
index of the emotions 3 so your handwriting may not err 
from the authentic original in anything. 

' If a claimant succeed in enticing you even once from 
the paths of honesty, vainly will you in any subsequent 
case seek to obtain his credence for any document that 
you may produce ; for he will always believe that the 
trick which has been played once may be played again. 
Keep to the line of justice, and even his angry exclama- 
tions at the impossibility of inducing you to deviate 
therefrom, will be your highest testimonial. Your whole 
career is public, and the favour or disgrace which awaits 
you must be public also.' 

1 ' Armarium ipsius fortuna cunctorum est.' 

2 * Translator esto, non conditor antiquorum gestorum.' 

3 Compare Cassiodorus' treatise De Anima, chapters x. and xi., in 
which he enumerates the various points in which the faces of good men 
and bad men differ from one another. 

Book XII. Letters 21-22. 513 


[This letter was written Sept. i, 537, probably in 
consequence of the scarcity which the operations of 
Belisarius were already causing at Ravenna. Appa- 
rently the whole taxes levied from a Province at an 
Indiction were divided into two heads: so much for 
the central authority, and so much for the Province. 
Cassiodorus in this and the following letter says in 
effect : ' All the State's share of the taxes we will take 
not in money, but in your staple products, corn, wine, 
and oil. The rest goes as usual to the Province; but 
owing to the scarcity at Ravenna we shall be glad to 
buy all that can be spared either by the authorities 
of the Province or by individuals, whether farmers or 

'The true way to prevent the requirements of the 
public revenue from becoming oppressive, is to order 
each Province to supply those products in which it is 
naturally most fertile. 

' Now I have learned by conversation with travellers Bequi- 
that the Province of Istria is this year especially blessed fr^Pro 
in three of its crops wine, oil, and corn. Therefore vince of 
let her give of these products the equivalent of ... 
solidi, which are due from you in payment of tribute 
for this first Indiction l : while the remainder we leave 
to that loyal Province for her own regular expenses. 
But since we require a larger quantity of the above- 
mentioned products, we send . . . solidi from our 
state chest for the purchase of them, that these neces- 
saries may be collected for us with as little delay as 
possible. Often when you are desirous to sell you 
! cannot find a purchaser, and suffer loss accordingly. 
I How much better is it to obey the requirements of 

1 The first Indiction was from September I, 537, to September i, 538. 


514 Cassiodori Variae. 

your Lords than to supply foreigners ; and to pay 
your debts in the fruits of the soil, rather than to 
wait on the caprices of a buyer ! 

'We will ourselves out of our love of justice state 
a fact of which you might otherwise remind us, that 
we can afford to be liberal in price because we are 
not burdened by the payment of freights [on account 
of your nearness to the seat of government]. For 
what Campania is to Rome, Istria is to Ravenna a 
fruitful Province abounding in corn, wine, and oil; so 
to speak, the cupboard of the capital. I might carry 
the comparison further, and say that Istria can show 
her own Baiae in the lagunes with which her shores 
are indented 1 , her own Averni in the pools abounding 
in oysters and fish. The palaces, strung like pearls 
along the shores of Istria, show how highly our 
ancestors appreciated its delights 2 . The beautiful chain 
of islands with which it is begirt, shelter the sailor 
from danger and enrich the cultivator. The residence 
of the Court in this district delights the nobles and 
enriches the lower orders ; and it may be said that 
all its products find their way to the Royal city. Now 
let the loyal Province, which has often tendered her 
services when they were less required, send forward 
her stores freely. 

' To guard against any misunderstanding of our orders, 
we send Laurentius, a man of great experience, whose 
instructions are contained in the annexed letter. 

'We will publish a tariff of moderate prices when 
we next address you, and when we have ascertained 
what is the yield of the present crops ; for we should 
be deciding quite at random before we have received 
that information.' 

1 Here follows this sentence: <Haec loca garismatia plura nutriunt.' 
Garum seems to have been a sauce something like our anchovy-sauce. 
Garismatium is evidently a garum-supplying place. 

2 We have a special allusion in Martial (iv. 25) to the villas of Alti- 
num, and he too compares them to those of Baiae. 

Book XII. Letters 22-24. 



1 Anyone can discharge the duties of the Commis- The same 
sariat in a time of abundance. It is a mark of our sub3ect ' 
high appreciation of your experience and efficiency, 
that we select you for this service in a time of scarcity. 
We therefore direct you to repair to the Province of 
Istria, there to collect stores of wine, oil, and corn, 
equivalent to ... solidi, due from the Province for 
land-tax 2 , and with . . . solidi which you have received 
from our Treasurer to buy these products either from the 
merchants or from the peasants, directly, according to 
the information prepared for you by the Cashiers 3 . 
Raise your spirits for this duty, and discharge it in a 
manner worthy of your past reputation. Make to us a 
faithful report of the yield of the coming harvest, under 
these three heads 4 , that we may fix a tariff of prices 
which shall be neither burdensome to the Provincials nor 
injurious to the public service/ 



' We have previously given orders that Istria should jJ^f of 
send wine and oil, of which there are abundant crops Venice. 

1 Evidently 'the annexed letter' referred to in No. 22. 

2 'Ut in tot solidos vini, olei, vel tritici species de tributario solido 
debeas procurare.' 

3 ' Sicut te a Numerariis instruxit porrecta Notitia.' Note this use of 
| the word 'Notitia,' as illustrating the title of the celebrated document 

I bearing that name. 

4 Corn, wine, and oil. 

5 Written shortly after Sept. I, 537. This is the celebrated letter to 
: which Venetian historians point as evidence of the existence of their city 
I (or at least of the group of settlements out of which their city sprang) in 
. the Sixth Century. We may set side by side with it the words of the 
I Anonymous Geographer of Ravenna (in the Seventh Century), ' In patria 
< vero Venetiae sunt aliquantae insulae, quae hominibus habitantur/ 

The address, Trilunis Maritimorum, looks as if there were something 
like a municipal government established in these islands. Tribunus was 


516 Cassiodori Variae. 

this year, to the Royal residence at Ravenna. Do you, 
who possess numerous ships on the borders of the Pro- 
vince, show the same devotion in forwarding the stores 
which they do in supplying them. 

* Be therefore active in fulfilling this commission in 
your own neighbourhood, you who often cross boundless 
distances. It may be said that [in visiting Ravenna] 
you are going through your own guest-chambers, you 
who in your voyages traverse your own home 1 . This is 
also added to your other advantages, that to you another 
route is open, marked by perpetual safety and tranquillity. 
For when by raging winds the sea is closed, a way is 
opened to you through the most charming river scenery 2 . 
Your keels fear no rough blasts ; they touch the earth 
with the greatest pleasure, and cannot perish however 
frequently they may come in contact with it. Beholders 
from a distance, not seeing the channel of the stream, 
might fancy them moving through the meadows. Cables 
have been used to keep them at rest : now drawn by 
ropes they move, and by a changed order of things men 
help their ships with their feet. They draw their drawers 
without labour, and instead of the capricious favour of 
sails they use the more satisfactory steps of the sailor. 

' It is a pleasure to recall the situation of your dwell- 
ings as I myself have seen them. Venetia the praise- 
worthy 3 , formerly full of the dwellings of the nobility, 

at this time generally, but not exclusively, a military title. Compare the 
Tribunus Fori Suarii and Tribunus Kerum Nitentium of the Notitia (Occi- 
dens iv. 10 and iv. 17). But there can be no doubt, from the tone of this 
letter, that the islanders were subjects of the Ostrogothic King. 

1 An obscure sentence : ' Per hospitia quodammodo vestra discurritis qui 
per patriam navigatis.' The idea seems to be : ' You have to sail about 
from one room to another of your own house, and therefore Eavenna will 
seem like a neighbouring inn.' 

2 The next four sentences describe the movement of the ships when 
towed along the channels of the streams (Brenta, Piave, Tagliamento, &c.) 
the deposits from which have made the lagunes. 

3 ' Venetiae praedicabiles.' An allusion, no doubt, as other commentators 
have suggested, to the reputed derivation of Venetia from Alvcrol, 'the 

Book XII. Letter 14. 517 

touches on the south Ravenna and the Po, while on the 
east it enjoys the delightsomeness of the Ionian shore, 
where the alternating tide now discovers and now con- 
ceals the face of the fields by the ebb and flow of its 
inundation. Here after the manner of water-fowl have 
you fixed your home. He who was just now on the 
mainland finds himself on an island, so that you might 
fancy yourself in the Cyclades x , from the sudden alter- 
ations in the appearance of the shore. 

* Like them 2 there are seen amid the wide expanse of 
the waters your scattered homes, not the product of 
Nature, but cemented by the care of man into a firm 
foundation 3 . For by a twisted and knotted osier- work 
the earth there collected is turned into a solid mass, and 
you oppose without fear to the waves of the sea so fragile 
a bulwark, since forsooth the mass of waters is unable to 
sweep away the shallow shore, the deficiency in depth 
depriving the waves of the necessary power. 

'The inhabitants have one notion of plenty, that of 
gorging themselves with fish. Poverty therefore may as- 
sociate itself with wealth on equal terms. One kind of 
food refreshes all ; the same sort of dwelling shelters all ; 
no one can envy his neighbour's home ; and living in this 
moderate style they escape that vice [of envy] to which 
all the rest of the world is liable. 

'Your whole attention is concentrated on your salt- 
works. Instead of driving the plough or wielding